Oregon Symphony receives $1.45 million!

Good news in Portland. Four foundations have awarded the Oregon Symphony $1.45 million to support its budget. Kudos go to the James. F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, the Meyer Memorial Trust of Portland, The Collins Foundation, and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. This calls for a major fanfare! Congratulations to the orchestra and its administrative staff.

Here’s the details from the orchestra’s press release:

The Oregon Symphony, Portland’s largest performing-arts organization, announced today that it has been awarded new grants totaling $1.45 million by four foundations in support of its ongoing activities. The grants include:

· $1 million in operating support for the 2009/10 season from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

· $300,000 in operating support from the Meyer Memorial Trust of Portland ($150,000 each for the 2009/10 and 2010/11 seasons)

· $100,000 in operating support from The Collins Foundation in Oregon.

· $50,000 to support education programs in 2009/10 from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation of San Francisco.

The new grants mark a significant step forward in the orchestra’s efforts to achieve financial sustainability because three of the four come from foundations that have not supported the Oregon Symphony in recent years. Before these awards, the orchestra had most recently received grant support from The Collins Foundation in 2005, the Hearst Foundation in 2004 and the Meyer Memorial Trust in 2001.

“In addition to these significant grant awards, it’s encouraging to have the support of these foundations,” said Oregon Symphony Association president Elaine Calder. “They serve our entire community and are understandably prudent in their choice of recipients. These grants signal their recognition of the role the Oregon Symphony plays in our community and of our efforts over the past several years to create a stable platform of financial and operational support for the orchestra.”

Increased foundation support is a key element of the Oregon Symphony’s multi-year effort to balance its budget and stabilize its finances. During the 2007/08 season, the most recent year for which audited figures are available, the orchestra received a total of $1.69 million in foundation grants. Overall, contributed income from all sources – including individuals, foundations, government and businesses – accounts for about 50 percent of the Oregon Symphony’s budget each year.

At its annual meeting earlier in October, Calder also announced additional progress toward the organization’s goal of sustainability, including:

* The use of $7.2 million from the orchestra’s unrestricted funds to eliminate its long-term bank debt.
* An extension of its contract with the union representing orchestra musicians that contains significant financial concessions expected to save the organization $1.4 million over the two-year length of the agreement. (Oregon Symphony players are represented by Local 99 of the American Federation of Musicians.)
* A board-approved balanced budget for the current season.

Board Chair Walter E. Weyler announced at the Oct. 2 meeting that the organization finished its 2008/09 season with an operating deficit of $519,000 – down from $590,000 the prior year – and total box office revenue of $6.61 million. He said the latter figure represents a 35 percent increase over the past two seasons, which he called “a stunning improvement.”

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