TSO Sets Stage for Success With Historic Estate Donation and Ongoing Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility as It Announces Further Reduction to Its Accumulated Deficit
October 23, 2019
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) held its Annual General Meeting today, announcing that the TSO’s accumulated deficit is now the lowest it has been in almost three decades. On the heels of receiving the largest donation in the history of the organization, the TSO ended the 2019 fiscal year with a surplus of $1.9 million, enabling the organization to reduce the accumulated deficit to $2.6 million, which is a reduction of $9.6 million since Fiscal 2013. Board Chair Catherine Beck and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Loden highlighted a number of programming initiatives and financial developments over the past year that have further secured the institution’s forward momentum and ensure the TSO’s success in continuing to deliver outstanding artistic programming and achieving financial stability.
“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.
A historic $10-million gift from the Estate of H. Thomas and Mary Beck, the largest gift ever received by the TSO, has an impact that is immediate and lasting. In accordance with the wishes of the estate, $3.0 million of the gift contributed to the surplus and corresponding reduction of accumulated deficit in Fiscal 2019, and $7.0 million was directed to the Toronto Symphony Foundation (TSF).
The TSO’s financial position was further strengthened through donor support from both long-time and new patrons, as well as the launch of a new annual fundraising event, EVENING EPIC, established to bring TSO fans together for an unforgettable night of music and celebration in support of the Orchestra’s education and mentorship programs. After an unforgettable night, EVENING EPIC will return for it’s second edition March 26, 2020.
“Change at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra began two years ago, and with a renewed vision, our institution and Orchestra is stronger than it has been in years. Our next goal is to become an even bigger part of Toronto,” said Catherine Beck, Chair, Board of Directors, Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Under Loden’s leadership, the TSO is making significant strides in strengthening partnerships and creating opportunities for the Orchestra to deepen relationships with the community. In spring 2019, the inaugural Relaxed Performance welcomed patrons of all ages and abilities to Roy Thomson Hall for the Let’s Dance! program designed primarily for youth on the autism spectrum and their families. The program was well received, with close to 800 patrons enjoying the concert, purposefully set in a low-stress and welcoming environment. For some, it was the first opportunity to attend a live orchestral performance.
To mark the sixth anniversary of the Canada-wide Call for Scores, an annual jury competition for emerging composers to hear their works performed by a professional orchestra, the TSO opened its doors to the public, providing exclusive access to audience members to experience the composition process up close at Explore the Score held in January 2019 and conducted by TSO Composer Advisor Gary Kulesha.
The Star Wars Film Concert Series, John Williams’s classic scores performed by the Orchestra alongside the films, played a key role in bringing in new attendees this season. Generously supported by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, the series continues in the 2019/20 season with Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in October 2019 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens in May 2020. Sixty-one percent of households who purchased tickets to any of the TSO’s film concerts in 2018/19 were first-time attendees, and 42% lived outside Toronto.
In September 2018, the TSO announced Gustavo Gimeno as the Orchestra’s next Music Director, beginning in 2020/21. Gimeno returned to Toronto in June 2019 to conduct the final sold-out concerts of the 2018/19 season featuring Stravinsky’s The Firebird and also spent time meeting with concertgoers, stakeholders, and local media.
In its 97th concert season, the TSO presented 140 performances to the community, 16 of which were School Concerts to over 30,000 students and their teachers in the GTA and beyond. Additionally, 1,230 high school students from across the region had the opportunity to experience the Orchestra live through the Morning with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra open-rehearsal program. These young people were given a rare glimpse into how the Orchestra prepares for a performance, and had a chance to meet with a TSO musician for a Q&A.
The TSO continues to pursue artistic excellence while providing opportunities for new and emerging composers, musicians, and conductors. In 2018/19, the Orchestra performed three World Premières, including the first commission by Emilie LeBel as the TSO’s RBC Affiliate Composer at the 21C Music Festival, and welcomed 18 débuting soloists including George Li (piano), Claire de Sévigné (soprano), and Simon O’Neill (tenor). The season was also a showcase for débuting conductors, with acclaimed maestros Kerem Hasan, Gemma New, Aziz Shokhakimov, Han-Na Chang, Kirill Karabits, and Nicholas Collon, and Canadian conductors Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser and Simon Rivard all leading the Orchestra for the first time.
The TSO is grateful to the thousands of generous donors and sponsors who share its passion for orchestral music and made gifts to the Orchestra in 2018/19. The TSO also wishes to thank all subscribers and audience members for their continued support.
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 Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the City of Toronto—provided meaningful operating grants to support the symphony, totalling over $5 million, making possible the TSO’s artistic achievements and community services.