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THE SCOOP | TSO Announces the End Is In Sight For Black Cloud Deficit

By Michael Vincent on October 23, 2019

Sir Andrew Davis conducts the TSO
Sir Andrew Davis conducts the TSO (Photo : Jag Gundu)

After the news broke of a 10 million dollar donation to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra earlier this month, spirits have been riding high at the orchestra.

Adding to the good fortune was an announcement at the Annual General Meeting today, of an operating surplus of $1.9 M for the 2019 fiscal year. With two winning years in a row, (last year’s annual report showed a $2.3 M surplus), the TSO are poised to look back at the frightening height of a $9.6 M deficit in 2013 with a new sense of confidence.

The TSO are still facing a $2.6 M deficit, which, save the floor dropping from out from under them, should be entirely manageable.

It’s been an extraordinary few years for an orchestra conditioned to being talked about for its music, rather than its administration. Over the past six years, the orchestra has also been battling vacant CEO positions, retiring music directors, and the coming-and-going of board chairs.

“The TSO has enjoyed a remarkable year. We announced an auspicious new era of artistic leadership, our musicians continued to demonstrate their superlative talents, and we began to grow our community engagement initiatives — all while remaining firmly grounded in responsible financial practices and ensuring we address the accumulated deficit,” said Matthew Loden, CEO, Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

And while statements like these can usually be taken as PR spin, Loden is exactly right.

TSO Statement of Operations 2019
TSO Statement of Operations 2019

While revenue is down $813,000, bequests are up $1.9 M, easily bridging the gap. Production costs are notably down from a sizable $20.6 M in 2018 to $18.6 M in 2019. Special events fundraising expenses have doubled, likely due to the new annual fundraising event EVENING EPIC, which raises funds for the TSO’s education and mentorship programs.

TSO Ticket Sales 2019
TSO Ticket Sales 2019

Looking at ticket sales, we can see subscriptions down slightly, and single tickets up. Total attendance was a modest 267,257 over 140 performances. Out of the total tickets, 8 percent were new audiences, which is low considering this is the same audience representing the future of the art form.

Despite the progress at the TSO, there is still much work to be done, including eliminating the remainder of the deficit. Should the TSO hold course, it looks to be just one or two seasons away from financial stability.


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Michael Vincent
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