[Last updated, December 10, 2014, 9:30 a.m.]
Orchestra London has confirmed that the seventy-seven year-old orchestra will cease operations effective Tuesday, 16 December 2014.
The planed closure is due to a massive budget shortfall, to the tune of nearly half a million dollars.
In a statement to AM 980, Board President Joseph O’Neill said the crisis was caused after the mid-sized orchestra received a one-million dollar gift (the biggest in its history), which was to be distributed over a three-year period.
The first portion amounted to three hundred thousand dollars, and was transferred in June 2013.
The second portion was scheduled this summer but never arrived, leaving the orchestra desperate to cover basic expenses and payroll.
According to the local London news affiliate IFP Press, the reason the funds were not transferred was because the unnamed donor decided to direct the funds towards a new concert hall instead – leaving the orchestra insolvent.
Things were so dire, the orchestra used future season tickets to cover current productions – money that will not be refunded.
In a statement to AM 980, Centennial Hall’s Don Jones said “They’re not going to get any money back. The orchestra sold all their tickets and they spent all the money before the shows happened, so all these people are out of their money.”
“It’s been tough making payrolls every week and they had a big payroll due tomorrow (Wednesday), which they couldn’t make so that was the last straw I think. The plug was just basically pulled on it,” Jones said.
In letter written last week on behalf of the fifty-five unionized orchestra musicians, they placed the blame squarely on the orchestra administration, and called for Executive Director, Joe Swan to be fired.
Swan responded by defending his position, stating the orchestra musicians are unfairly singling him out.
IFP Press reported employees are concerned they may not be paid, but Swan seemed hopeful that they will be able to settle all remaining payroll accounts by the end of the calendar year.
[For an exclusive interview with Executive Director Joe Swan, see here]