TSO Leadership Reports on 2016/17 Season Success and Introduces Plan for Financial Stability

December 4, 2017

At the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) Annual General Meeting that took place on Monday, November 27, Board Chair Catherine Beck and Interim Chief Executive Officer Gary Hanson announced a balanced budget for the 2016/17 season. Board Vice-Chair & Treasurer Rags Davloor reported that in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017, the TSO achieved a small surplus of revenues over expenses. The TSO’s leaders also introduced their plan to achieve long-term financial stability.

Report on the TSO’s 2016/17 Season

Revenues included stable year-over-year operating income, continued strong results in annual fundraising, a normalized Toronto Symphony Foundation contribution, and increased government support from the Department of Canadian Heritage in support of the 2017 Canada Mosaic project. On the expense side, the institution substantially reduced spending on administration and marketing, which enabled increased investment in the Orchestra and its concerts. Both moves reflect the implementation of the TSO’s new four-year strategic plan.

In 2016/17, the TSO undertook important artistic initiatives:

To mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra launched Canada Mosaic—a year-long, national celebration of the nation’s diverse musical landscape and a Canada 150 Signature Project—with funding from the Government of Canada. Canada Mosaic commemorates Canada’s rich musical past, present, and future through performance, education, innovation, and collaboration with orchestras across the country.

From May 7 to 22, 2017, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra toured Israel and Europe, acting as a cultural emissary for Canada during its sesquicentennial year. Appearing in Israel for the first time in its history, the TSO performed concerts in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, before playing in Vienna, Regensburg, and Essen, and at the Prague Spring International Music Festival.

The TSO is grateful to the many generous donors and sponsors who gave to the organization in 2016/17. Special thanks are due to Mrs. Mary Beck, The Renette & David Berman Family Foundation, Hans & Susan Brenninkmeyer, Indra & Rags Davloor, Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, Sheryl L. & David W. Kerr, Bettie Moore in memory of Donald Moore, Richard Rooney & Laura Dinner, Scotiabank Group, The Estate of James Drewry Stewart, and an anonymous donor.*

BMO Financial Group, the TSO’s Season Presenting Sponsor since 2011, continues to stand out as a leader in corporate support of the arts.

All three levels of government—through the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the City of Toronto—provided meaningful operating grants to support the symphony. Last year, government grants totalled more than $5 million, making possible the TSO’s artistic achievements and community services.

Plan for Financial Stability

During the Annual General Meeting, Catherine Beck and Gary Hanson also outlined the TSO’s 4-Year Path to Financial Recovery. The meeting marked the successful completion of Year 1 of the plan.

Last season, the TSO’s Board and executive team carried out a detailed analysis of the organization’s operations, especially its ongoing financial challenges. Their work led to the development of a comprehensive strategy to achieve short- and long-term financial stability. Key financial components of the plan include restoring net operating revenues through changes in programming, scheduling and ticket pricing, as well as controlling fixed expenses, particularly in marketing and administration. The plan also foresees conservative annual growth in renewable philanthropy, and a long-term focus on increasing the endowment.

In addition to a rigorous business plan, the path forward is equally focused on artistic achievement, community engagement, and governance practices. For example, key initiatives include filling long-standing vacancies in the Orchestra with newly hired musicians; building a Board of generous, engaged leaders who love music; and expanding educational programs and establishing partnerships with Toronto’s diverse communities.

Mr. Hanson commented: “Fiscal stability alone is not enough. Overall institutional health requires ongoing artistic integrity and a growing commitment to community service. In every aspect of our plan, the message is clear: the TSO needs rigorous, meticulous renewal, not earth-shaking revolution.”

Successful implementation of the plan calls for a special campaign to raise $12 million in a Transition Fund. Of this amount, $5 million will balance the annual budget over the four years required to turn around the business operations, and $7 million to eliminate the TSO’s accumulated deficit. To date, the TSO has received gifts and pledges to the Transition Fund totalling more than $6 million of the $12 million goal. Almost $1.4 million of the Fund was applied to the 2016/17 fiscal year.

The initial success in raising contributions to the Transition Fund comes from more than a dozen commitments above and beyond annual donations, including a number of six- and seven-figure gifts from extraordinary individual supporters: Mrs. Mary Beck, Sheryl L. & David W. Kerr, Bettie Moore in memory of Donald Moore, Richard Rooney & Laura Dinner, and an anonymous donor.** The campaign to complete the Transition Fund is underway.

Catherine Beck commented: “Our sincere thanks to all our donors, to the Board of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Trustees of the Toronto Symphony Foundation. They share a vision of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as one of our country’s most valuable cultural assets, worthy of significant investment.”

*Support of $200,000 or more to annual operations and special initiatives in 2016/17

**Pledges and gifts to the Transition Fund of $250,000 to more than $2 million

View the TSO’s 2016/17 Annual Report here.

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