Andris Nelsons give cash boost to his former orch

Andris Nelsons give cash boost to his former orch


norman lebrecht

July 27, 2015

This is rare for UK orchs which are lousy at raising endowments.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has just topped £2m ($3m). Big for UK. Well done.

Among the givers is outgoing music director Andris Nelsons.

Even more unusual.

Andris Nelsons conducting

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has passed a fundraising milestone having raised an initial £2 million for its Endowment fund.

The fund was created after Arts Council England’s Catalystprogramme offered to match pound for pound Endowment donations made by private supporters before 31 July, up to a total of £1 million.  The Orchestra reached the target two weeks before the deadline as a result of generous donations from over 50 supporters.

The investment interest generated from the Endowment will be around 7%–8% of the £1.2 million which the Orchestra must raise from the private sector each year to sustain the world-class excellence of its concerts, its extensive educational and community programmes, its six choirs and its Youth Orchestra.

Donors to the Endowment have included every member of the CBSO Development Trust and Board, outgoing Music Director Andris Nelsons, and other close supporters of the Orchestra.

CBSO Chief Executive Stephen Maddock said: “We are extremely grateful to those who have contributed so generously to this initial Endowment target.  Alongside increasing levels of annual fundraising, income from the Endowment will be vital in securing the excellence and breadth of the CBSO’s work.  We have absorbed a 25% real-terms reduction in our public funding since 2010, and this is just the beginning of a fundamental shift towards securing our future with increased private support.”

CBSO Development Trust chairman Chris Loughran added: “Reaching our Catalyst target is a significant achievement and an encouraging step on our fundraising journey.  Our city is blessed with an Orchestra and Chorus of world renown.  We continue to champion the Orchestra’s importance to our local economy and society, and look forward to welcoming many more people to our family of supporters in the years ahead.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Midlands at Arts Council England, commented: “This is really fantastic news for the CBSO. Continued public investment is crucial for supporting our nation’s world-class arts and culture and the benefits it brings to people and places, but in the current economic climate it’s vital for arts and cultural organisations to be exploring new ways to generate income and raise funds. This was the ambition behind our Catalyst programme so we’re delighted to hear that the CBSO has reached its target and begun forging those all-important relationships for the future.”


  • Mark Pemberton says:

    It’s great news for the CBSO, but also for all the English orchestras, who have all hit or exceeded their endowment targets. Far from being “lousy” at raising endowments, this is a collective success story.

  • Jon H says:

    Great work at CBSO. The individual support will pay off, because individuals may pass away, but in the donor pool there will be others to take their place. Better than losing 40% public funding all at once.

  • Mattheos says:

    Creative accountancy at play?

  • Paul says:

    The 2013 press release in which the Boston Symphony announced the appointment of Andris Nelsons as music director states that the orchestra’s endowment amounted to $413 million, which is a bit more than 260 million pounds. As an American I am proud of our tradition of private patronage, and the illustrious cultural institutions that tradition has sustained.

  • MacroV says:

    The CBSO has a long way to go to catch up to the endowments of even the poorer American orchestras.

    • Halldor says:

      All UK orchestras have a long way to go to catch up with the big US orchestral endowments; they’re a product of many decades of a very different kind of funding culture.

      It’s healthy that they’re starting to work seriously at building this kind of financial safety net, though equally it’s to be hoped that they don’t fall victim to the stranglehold that an artistically conservative private funder-base seems to have on many major US artistic institutions – witness the notoriously unimaginative programming and unthinking celebrity-worship one sometimes sees at the “Big Five” US bands and the NY Met.