The numbers are sombre in Cleveland

The numbers are sombre in Cleveland


norman lebrecht

November 22, 2011

I have been reading the Cleveland Orchestra’s financial results with deepening dismay. Cleveland is an orchestra that does most things right. It has a highly committed chief conductor, Franz Welser-Möst, and a highly capable president, Gary Hanson.

Faced with a shrinking and aging middle-class audience in a rustbelt city, it has established prestigious and profitable residencies in Miami, Vienna, Lucerne and, soon, Paris. Its sound tradition is the strongest in America.

Yet the going is incredibly tough. In 2009 the orchestra reported a $2 million shortfall. Last year it was $2.3  million. Now, it’s $2.7 million. Somehow or other that leak will have to be plugged, but how? The loss amounts to 5 percent of turnover, every year.

There is an endowment of $130 million, and that increased last year by $24 million, a sign of donor confidence. But the losses are persistent. They do not augur well.

Here’s the full statement:

The Musical Arts Association (MAA), governing body of The Cleveland Orchestra, Severance Hall, and Blossom Music Center, released its 2010-11 results at its Annual Meeting Friday, November 18.  For the 2010-11 fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2011, operating results netted a deficit of $2.7 million, on total operating revenues of $44.8 million and operating expenses of $47.5 million.  The Orchestra achieved a record in fundraising commitments, and ticket sales at Severance Hall increased from the previous year.

In 2010-11, The Cleveland Orchestra appeared in Europe and Asia on two international tours and performed in three national residencies. The Orchestra expanded its commitment to Northeast Ohio with the announcement of the Center for Future Audiences.


“Their reputation as one of the world’s great ensembles is richly deserved.”

– The GuardianAugust 2010


At the Annual Meeting, MAA President Dennis LaBarre said, “This season, The Cleveland Orchestra has proudly carried the name of Cleveland, in partnership with its brand of excellence, across the country and literally around the world.”  Under the leadership of Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, the Orchestra appeared on a European summer festivals tour, and an Asian tour and four-concert residency at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall.  In 2011, the Orchestra celebrated its fifth annual Miami Residency, launched a new partnership with a residency at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, completed the third installment of fully-staged Mozart operas at Severance Hall, and debuted in the first of three biennial residencies at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York.



The Orchestra expanded its commitment to the Northeast Ohio community and continued to innovate in 2010-11.  The Center for Future Audiences endowed by the Maltz Family Foundation was announced in October 2010.  The work of the Center for Future Audiences focuses on eliminating economic, geographic, and cultural barriers to attending the Orchestra’s performances, with a goal of having the youngest audience anywhere for a symphony orchestra by the time of The Cleveland Orchestra’s centennial in 2018.


New and ongoing collaborations resulting in projects with partner institutions included:  Tri-C JazzFest, GroundWorks DanceTheater, Cleveland Play House, Case Western Reserve University, Oberlin College, Cleveland Clinic, the Cleveland Municipal School Disctrict, and Cleveland Institute of Music.  The Orchestra performed twice at the Cleveland Museum of Art supported by the new Keithley Fund for Artistic Collaboration.


The Orchestra continued its annual participation in Orchestras Feeding America, a national food drive held by America’s symphony orchestras, collecting 3,260 pounds of food for the Cleveland Foodbank.   Musicians, staff, and volunteers collected food donations from patrons at Severance Hall, as well the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, and Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus in January and February 2011.


In March 2011, Orchestra musicians organized several benefits in Cleveland, as well as in Miami, for the Red Cross and the Japanese Association of Northeast Ohio to raise funds for those who suffered in the Japanese earthquakes.



Total gift commitments to the Orchestra reached a record high of $44.2 million in 2010-11, including $24.8 million in annual fundraising, project underwriting, and gifts to the endowment, $4.4 million in pledged commitments, and $15 million in legacy giving.  More people purchased tickets to concerts at Severance Hall last season.  Paid admissions for performances at Severance Hall increased by 3.5% over the previous year with 7 fewer performances.  In 2010-11, the total tickets purchased for 94 performances were 133,600.



On June 20,2011, the endowment stood at $130 million, increased $24 million from the previous year.  Executive Director Gary Hanson said, “To maintain an orchestra of the scope, scale and quality of The Cleveland Orchestra, we must continue to raise the funds needed to ensure endowment growth.”



Officers of the Board of Trustees re-elected at the annual meeting included Dennis W. LaBarre, President; Richard J. Bogomolny, Chairman; The Honorable John D. Ong, Vice President; Norma Lerner, Honorary Chair; Raymond T. Sawyer, Secretary; and Beth E. Mooney, Treasurer.  Elizabeth Juliano and Iris Harvie have been elected as new Resident Trustees, and Dr. Wolfgang Berndt has been elected a new Non-Resident Trustee.

Trustees elected in the 2010-11 fiscal year included Paul G. Clark, Hiroyuki Fujita, David P. Hunt, and Paul A. Rose.



  • Rosana Martins says:

    We are almost all facing shrinking and aging middle-class audiences, unfortunately. It is remarkable the work the Cleveland Orchestra realizes to overcome the problem.

    It is also known that orchestra tours cost a fortune, most of the funds coming out of the total budget. If these tours and residencies are funded by the orchestra, Japan and Europe will need to wait for better times. A pity!