Indy orch gets $10 million gift

Indy orch gets $10 million gift


norman lebrecht

November 24, 2015

Big Pharma does some good.

The Indianapolis Orchestra woke up this morning $10m the richer.

It plans to spend the money on streaming concerts and improving the musicians’ pensions. The orch is on a bit of a roll with a good, young conductor, Krzysztof Urbanski, and 15 percent growth in ticket sales.

urbanski indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS – The Lilly Endowment Inc. announced today that it was awarding the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra a grant of $10 million as part of a special initiative to strengthen the financial stability of Indiana arts and cultural institutions.  The grant, one of the largest gifts in the ISO’s 85-year history, will help support strategic objectives which are designed to sustain and improve the ISO’s financial future.

“These organizations have a long history of providing enlightening and educational experiences to the Indianapolis community and to the people of Indiana,” said Ace Yakey, the Endowment’s vice president for community development. “Their creative and energizing programs, exhibits, concerts and strong audience and community engagement have a significant economic impact on the city and around the state and on their national and international reputation.

“Indiana marks its bicentennial in 2016 and Indianapolis celebrates its bicentennial in 2021. The Endowment hopes that these grants enable recipients to cross these milestones in a stronger position to sustain and build on their contributions to the cultural vitality of the city and state.”

The ISO intends to use the grant to support an investment in technology to enable audio and video streaming of select ISO performances at Hilbert Circle Theatre, to fund its defined benefit pension plan for ISO musicians, and to support its endowment. 

“Lilly Endowment’s support comes at a critical point in time for the ISO,” said Vince Caponi, the Chair of the Board of Directors of the ISO. “This transformational grant will enable the ISO expand its reach beyond the walls of our concert hall, will help fulfill an important commitment to our extraordinary musicians, and will help secure the future of the institution. I hope others in the community will continue to recognize the importance of this cultural asset and provide support for our ongoing operations.”

“Throughout the years, the Endowment has supported the ISO at crucial moments in our history,” said Gary Ginstling, the ISO’s Chief Executive Officer. “The ISO Board, Musicians and Staff are overwhelmed at the generosity of this extraordinary grant and the confidence it shows in our strategic direction and our ambitious plans.”

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has seen strong attendance growth in recent seasons, with a 15 percent growth in overall sales to Hilbert Circle Theatre concerts from FY14 to FY15.  Student ticket sales have increased dramatically as well, with an increase of 50 percent over the past two years. In addition, the ISO has continued its tradition of innovation with its new Lunch Break Series of casual 45-minute performances each summer, and its new 317 Series which brings the Orchestra outside its concert hall and into central Indiana communities.  The ISO will announce its FY15 financial results at its Annual Meeting on December 7.


  • David says:

    Maybe it would be wise to stash some of that money away for when there are lean times instead of spending every penny on projects.

  • David says:

    To counter the snark in NL’s intro line, it is worth noting that the gift to the ISO is from the Lilly Endowment, a charitable foundation that has been separate and distinct from the pharmaceutical company since its establishment in 1937. It is true that big pharma does and has done “some good”. Eli Lilly the drug company was the first company to make available an insulin drug for the treatment of diabetes and one of the first to commercialize penicillin. #facts