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Detroit Symphony Orchestra reports $8.8M budget deficit

Nate Luzod
creative commons
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra on stage

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra posted a $6.7 million budget shortfall for the 2010 fiscal year. Add to that the roughly $2 million the DSO spent on pension obligations and debt service on the Max M Fisher Music Center, and the total operating loss for the orchestra is $8.8 million.

Rozanne Kokko is the DSO's Chief Financial Officer:

"As avidly as we are trying to resolve our negotiations with our union, we are avidly working to restructure our debt services with our bank group."

The DSO’s Executive Committee to the Board of Directors wrote an open letter to the community in response to the latest deficit numbers. Heres's an excerpt:

The DSO has been backed into a corner by the financial realities of the past several years that have devastated our community, and even before that had begun impacting the orchestra. Despite the DSO being among the very top fundraisers among all American orchestras, contributions to the arts are under an unprecedented level of stress. In Detroit, contributions have declined by nearly 30% (individual, corporate, foundation, state and federal funding) since 2008. Concurrently, as Michigan’s economy has been battered, the community’s ability to buy tickets has been impacted, resulting in a 20% decline in ticket sales and other earned income.

To deal with its growing deficit, DSO management asked for a number of concessions from its musicians. Management’s original proposal would cut current players salaries by a third. Musicians have offered to cut their pay by about a quarter. The musicians have been on strike since October.

Concerts at Orchestra Hall have been cancelled through Dec. 11. It’s likely more cancellations are in the works.

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.
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