Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Swims Clear of 'Economic Riptide,' Announces Balanced Budget at 2010 Annual Meeting

Jun 04, 2010, 18:45 ET from Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra

DAYTON, Ohio, June 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At the 2009-2010 Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO) Annual Meeting on Thursday June 3rd at noon, held at the Dayton Racquet Club, Music Director Neal Gittleman described seeing a sign at the beach during his last summer's vacation instructing swimmers on what to do if caught in a riptide. "It said that you should neither swim straight into shore or out to sea away from the tide, but swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the treacherous part of the current. That struck me then as an apt metaphor for our situation."




Indeed, that turned out to be what the Orchestra accomplished in the 2009-2010 Season, dubbed "The Legends Season." Like many orchestras in the nation, the DPO had found itself in a fiscal crunch caused by a "perfect storm" combining extreme economic conditions, rapidly changing customer and patron behaviors, and past habits of dipping into endowment rather than undergoing the necessary but difficult work of changing the institution's business model.

"But this season was different..." said Board Chair Wendy Bohnett Campbell, with a catch in her voice and a long pause. "I promised myself I would not get emotional, but here I am doing just that. This process has been all about sacrifice, emotional strength, deep commitment and new thinking." She went on to relate that despite cuts in staff headcount and salaries, and musician givebacks of an earlier-determined salary increase, she saw no loss of motivation, quality or creativity as the DPO organization, board and volunteers took on the critical task of reinvention.

In spring of 2008, Ms. Campbell had been appointed interim President and consequently served on the search committee which appointed Paul Helfrich as the new DPO President. Mr. Helfrich came on board in August of 2008 and quickly recognized the depth of the tidal wave that was sweeping in upon the DPO.  

Since then, under Mr. Helfrich's leadership, the Orchestra conducted a feasibility study to test community support for the Orchestra and a potential fundraising campaign. In response to the consultant's recommendations, the orchestra launched two primary initiatives in order to respond to the Orchestra's financial challenges: the Protecting the Present, Securing Our Future Campaign and a Business Model Review Group (BMRG). A recasting of key internal resources preceded both of these efforts. These changes have allowed the DPO to reach a balanced budget for 2009-2010, the first time since 2003, and position the DPO for further innovation in upcoming seasons.

Paul Helfrich presented a view of DPO "by the numbers," looking first at the DPO's wide-ranging Education Department.

In the 2009-2010 Legends Season, the Orchestra served the Greater Dayton region by bringing the varied benefits of music education to 47,146 students. The DPO serves pre-school through grade 12 schoolchildren and their educators. The Education Department, headed by Director Gloria Pugh, fields the following programs (with audience number):

  • Young People's Concerts (8,989)
  • High School Concert (902)
  • Magic Carpet Concerts (4,460)
  • SPARK Schools Partners with Artists Reaching Kids (2,137)
  • Ensemble Visits to Schools (27,715)
  • Two Youth Orchestras (153 participants)
  • Master Classes, Open Rehearsals & Concerto Competition (276 participants)
  • Partnering with Muse Machine (2,514)

Common responses from teachers include comments such as " is life-changing when students are a part of a bigger world than their family, neighborhood and television can provide." The DPO has presented programs such as these since 1933 and is responsible for one of the largest orchestra-based music education programs in the country. It also boasts one of the nation's first youth orchestras, the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, headed by conductor Patrick Reynolds.

Positive news also came from the ticket income side of the equation. Mr. Helfrich reported final subscription sales results of $1,179,103 (projection: $1,166,370) and single ticket sales of $462,499 (projection: $486,600). The total ($1,641,602) reached 99% of the projected goal of $1,652,970. In addition, a "beta-test" of a new series, Symphony Sundaes, generated an additional $44,676 in ticket revenue.

The Orchestra's Marketing Department, headed by Director David Bukvic, has mapped out a plan to aggressively promote the 2010-2011 Voyages Season, which includes two new series (Symphony Sundaes and Rockin' Orchestra). Aided by the deployment of a proprietary DPO customer acquisition method plus new flexible subscription series types, the DPO is outpacing last year's subscription sales. Mr. Helfrich reported that 2010-2011 subscription receipts (currently at $1,031,023) are at 80% of the new season's goal and 5% ahead of 2009-2010, same-time last year.

The DPO Development Department, under Director Melanie Boyd, focused on multiple key initiatives including the launch of the Early Phase of the Protecting the Present, Securing Our Future Campaign with a minimum goal of $1.2 million, applied directly to the DPO's operations. These additional funds are critically needed to assist the Orchestra in its three-year process of innovation and reinvention. "To date, we have $776,630 committed from a total of 90 donors," reported Mr. Helfrich. "This solid start has been accomplished without negatively affecting our regular Annual Crescendo Campaign. There is a long way yet to go, but we are pleased that individual donors are seeing DPO's value to this community."

The sustainability campaign is chaired by long-time Orchestra supporters Lee & Betsy Whitney and led by a campaign cabinet of community volunteers. The public phase of the campaign is set to launch in September, coinciding with the start of the season.

The most challenging areas of fundraising for the past year were in the areas of Government, Corporate and, to some degree, Foundation. But, individual giving has proven to be strong with increases (since 2007-2008) of 46% in overall number of donors and 38% in Symphony Circle donors (the Orchestra's highest-giving patrons).

DPO President Helfrich also cited the DPO Production and Finance Departments, headed by Matt Borger and Pete Klosterman respectively, for their reliable and highly professional response to a challenging year.

Overall, the DPO finished the 2009-2010 fiscal year with a balanced budget of $5 million.    

Trustee Sue Seeberger and Board Chair Wendy Campbell commended the hard work of outgoing DPO Trustees and announced the nominees for first and second terms, which were voted on and accepted.

The following were elected to three-year terms as new members of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Board of Trustees:

  • Mary Arnett
  • Vicki Braun
  • Dave Dickerson
  • Erica Enouen
  • Rick Holley  
  • Maha Kashani
  • Alan Kimbrough
  • Christy Manchester
  • Bill McCormick
  • Jim Owens
  • Jon Russell
  • Annette Salsman
  • Lois Sutherland

The following current Trustees were elected to a 2nd three-year term:

  • Karen Crim
  • Rap Hankins
  • Vince Phillips
  • Bill Sibbing

The following outgoing Trustees were thanked for their service to the DPO and presented with a framed portrait of Neal Gittleman conducting the orchestra:

  • Sonnie Kasch
  • Linda Lombard
  • Stanley Lucas
  • Dave Reed
  • Susan Thomsen
  • Russ Wetherell

Following the Annual Meeting, the Dayton Philharmonic's Board of Trustees elected officers for the 2010-2011 season and fiscal year:

  • Chair: Wendy B. Campbell
  • Vice Chair: Richard M. DeLon
  • Treasurer: Daniel P. Deitz
  • Secretary: Julie Smallwood
  • Assistant Treasurer: Karen Crim

Despite a year in the black, no one at the Dayton Philharmonic is resting on their laurels, or anything else, for that matter. "Not to mix my metaphors, but it's important to realize that we have navigated a riptide and find ourselves on the shore - but we are not out of the woods..." says Music Director Gittleman.  President Helfrich agrees, "These are times that demand constant change and new thinking. As the next several years unfold, it is critical that our transformation continue at this pace and we arrive at 2012-2013 as a completely sustainable organization, appropriately tuned to our community."

Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra

Performance Place at the Schuster Center ~ 109 North Main Street, Suite 200 ~ Dayton, Ohio 45402

About the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra

The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra is the largest and oldest performing arts organization in the community. Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra performances are made possible in part by Montgomery County and Culture Works, the single largest source of community funds for the arts and culture in the Miami Valley. Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra receives partial funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency created to foster and encourage the development of the arts and to preserve Ohio's cultural heritage. Funding from the Ohio Arts Council is an investment of state tax dollars that promotes economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohio residents.

SOURCE Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra