Seattle Symphony President & CEO Simon Woods announced the financial results for the most recently ended fiscal year at the Symphony’s Annual Meeting at Benaroya Hall.
In addition to numerous artistic and organizational milestones, the fiscal year ending August 31, 2014, showed a $600K surplus in symphony operations. The consolidated company of the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Symphony Foundation and Benaroya Hall showed an increase in net assets of $6.5 million, driven by a combination of increased fundraising income and investment gains. This is the third consecutive year that the organization has posted a balanced budget, or better.
The 2013-2014 season included Seattle and New York performances of John Luther Adams' critically acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning piece Become Ocean, which later won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. The orchestra's new CD label, Seattle Symphony Media, which launched in 2014, received four Grammy nominations. Community programs continued to make symphonic music accessible to underserved populations including young children, senior citizens, the homeless and the incarcerated. The launch of the new school education program, Link Up: Seattle Symphony, saw 6,000 third through fifth graders singing and playing recorders with the orchestra, a program which has grown to 10,000 kids from over 100 different schools in the current season. The Seattle Symphony also hosted the League of American Orchestras conference, which was an opportunity to showcase the organization's innovations and commitment to its community before over 900 delegates from around the country.
“As we reflect on the 2013–2014 season, it’s quite clear that we had an extraordinary year which transformed the organization in many ways, commented Woods. “These successes would not be possible without the inspiration and dedication of our Music Director Ludovic Morlot and our Musicians, Staff, Volunteers and Board, in particular our Board Chair, Leslie Chihuly. These achievements also set the stage for the next set of goals, as outlined in our new strategic plan, which include for 2016 a multi-city Asia Tour, and the re-imagination of Soundbridge, our education space.”
For the 2013–2014 fiscal year, the Symphony returned a $600K operating surplus on a budget of $25.3 million. Fundraising increased by 18% from $10.78 million the previous year, to $12.75 million, with increases in the categories of individual giving, corporate support, special events and in-kind support. Symphony expenses increased by 8% from $23.68 million the previous year, to $25.61 million. The expense increase was driven by an expanded Live @ Benaroya Hall series, the Carnegie Hall tour and increased investment in fundraising.
Average paid attendance for the core Masterworks series in the 2013–2014 season increased to an average of 71% of capacity, up from 65% in the previous season.
Benaroya Hall posted a deficit of $55K on its budget of $5.29 million for the 2013–2014 season, due to fluctuations in facility rentals. The hall budget continues to provide funding for ongoing leasehold improvements and capital renewal reserves in order to ensure that Benaroya Hall is maintained as a first-class facility.
The Seattle Symphony’s endowment, which is managed by the Seattle Symphony Foundation, contributed $1.7 million to Symphony operations. The total net assets of the Seattle Symphony Foundation increased from $26 million to $32.3 million, which includes the $25 million invested assets of the endowment.
The Annual Report is posted online here.
Founded in 1903, the Seattle Symphony is one of America’s leading symphony orchestras and is internationally acclaimed for its innovative programming and extensive recording history. Under the leadership of Music Director Ludovic Morlot since September 2011, the Symphony is heard live from September through July by more than 300,000 people. It performs in one of the finest modern concert halls in the world — the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall — in downtown Seattle. Its extensive education and community-engagement programs reach over 100,000 children and adults each year. The Seattle Symphony has a deep commitment to new music, commissioning many works by living composers each season, including John Luther Adams’ recent Become Ocean, which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music and a 2015 Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. The orchestra has made more than 140 recordings and has received 18 Grammy nominations, two Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades. In 2014 the Symphony launched its in-house recording label, Seattle Symphony Media.