It’s official. Orchestras are now receiving more revenue from donations than ticket sales, a shift highlighted back in 2016 with a report by the League of American Orchestras.
The industry has also seen a shift in ticket-selling strategies, with subscription packages no longer being the primary source of revenue for the first time in 2013. Fast-forward a decade, and this changing financial landscape, coupled with the declining presence of classical music in the broader culture, has only increased.
Diving into a symphony of generosity…
…let’s take a look at the five largest donations to orchestras in North America.
1.) San Diego Symphony: Joan and Irwin Jacobs made waves with a $120 million donation, the largest ever made to a symphony orchestra at that time. The funds were to be donated over a period of 10 years, with the remainder left as a bequest.
2.) The Philadelphia Orchestra: A cool $55 million! This colossal donation, gifted by an anonymous donor-supervised fund, is the largest in the ensemble’s history. It’s especially noteworthy considering the orchestra’s past financial struggles.
3.) The Cleveland Orchestra: A $50 million donation from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation made a massive impact. This generous gift, the largest in the orchestra’s 103-year history, will finance digital upgrades, an opera and humanities festival, and expanded programs. Bonus point: the concert hall got a new name.
4.) Toronto Symphony Orchestra: The Beck family’s generous $10 million donation brought their lifetime giving to the TSO to over $20 million. The funds are to support key artistic initiatives and financial objectives, including deficit reduction and endowment growth.
5.) San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra: Last but not least, the orchestra recently received a high note of $2 million from the Paramo family. This gift, the largest in the orchestra’s 93-year history, goes straight into the endowments.
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