In the red: Cleveland Orch posts a $4.2m deficit

In the red: Cleveland Orch posts a $4.2m deficit


norman lebrecht

December 06, 2017

The bad news is the deficit is up 75 percent on last year.

The good news is the endowment has grown by almost $20 million, from $173.8 to $192.2 million.

The figures were released last night.

It appears the orchestra lost some big donors in reducing its Miami residency and is taking a calculated hit on a discount scheme to get more students coming to concerts.



  • Olassus says:

    Orchestras should not target students. They must price their subscriptions so that all people of modest means can make art music a regular part of their lives.

  • Eléazar says:

    They should do both

    • Bruce says:


      Target students to get them interested, then make prices affordable so that even if those students don’t grow up to be wealthy, they can still afford to go.

      I know there’s always a calculation between higher prices/fewer butts in seats and lower prices/more butts, and the argument that “the people who love it will be willing to pay a little more, and the people who don’t care won’t respond to lower prices anyway” usually wins. I feel for the folks in the middle, though, who do love it but can’t afford to pay “a little more.”

  • Ungeheuer says:

    Surely their endowment is up as is everyone else’s. Just wait until the stock market makes a U turn. It won’t be, can’t be, on the up and up forever.

  • Tcofan says:

    I attend Cleveland Orchestra concerts at least 3 times a month, and from my experience they are packed with a very diverse group of people, ages 18-28. It’s incredibly refreshing. Especially when compared to the NYphil, where half the local morgue shows up, and the rest of the hall is empty.

    • Mark Henriksen says:

      I guess ageism is ok…? I don’t respond to every pissant that posts here, but you should be ashamed of your post.

      • Olassus says:

        Those at the morgue are without age.

      • Bruce says:

        I think his point was that Cleveland packs the hall by appealing to various age groups, while New York fails to pack the hall by failing to appeal to various age groups.

        (I don’t know if he’s correct, but that’s what he seems to be saying… to me anyway)

        • The View from America says:

          One of the ways Cleveland packs them in at Severance Hall is by not merely discounting tickets for young audiences, but also by giving them away.

          On a trip last year to Cleveland and to TCO, we were surprised to see a group of about 40 or 50 younger individuals come and sit in our section on the main floor RH side, about 5 minutes before curtain time. It also appeared evident that they were all together, and weren’t familiar with the hall or the seating (in fact, they were just sitting down anywhere in the block of empty seats that must have been set aside for them).

          During intermission, I asked one of them where the group was from. He replied that they were young professionals in the medical profession from around the world, attending a conference being held at Case Western Reserve University. One of the “perks” offered by the conference was a free ticket, “field trip style,” to attend this Saturday evening Cleveland Orchestra concert. For many of the attendees, in town from all over the world and likely unfamiliar with the city or the other social activities that might have been available to them, I’m sure they would have found the offer tempting.

          Fair dues to TCO’s marketing department for coming up with activities like this to fill Severance nearly to capacity. But do these schemes build an audience for TCO over the long haul? Certainly not in this case — unless a few of those budding medical professionals end up making their way from their homes outside Ohio (or the United States) to settle in Cleveland.

          Of course, it all looks good “on paper” and in the annual attendance reporting …

    • Tristan says:

      you sure about selling well as Welser-Moest is such a boring overrated conductor
      I am wondering if he sells as no where else he would….except Salzburg of course….

    • Kenneth Berv says:

      And. the zombies are all on the stage

      • Kenneth Berv says:

        That’s the NY Phil (Zombies)

        • Mark Henriksen says:

          Hmmm… but why is it that these “zombies” are playing the….out of the music every time I hear them live or on broadcasts? Orchestras I’ve heard live: New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles, National, Baltimore; all of those many, many times and also Houston, Philharmonia of London, Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, National Orchestra of France, National Symphony of Mexico…Point is, when I say its a great orchestra, I have something to compare it to. It’s a great orchestra and this zombie comment is your problem, not theirs.

  • Rgiarola says:

    75% that means less than 5 million USD. Not that long ago, the orchestra was solidly in the black. In 2014 and 2015, the orchestra reported surpluses of $941,000 and $72,000, respectively.
    Florida Residence and the fat gifts were incredible, but could not be forever.

    It’s seems Cleveland is not in so deep financial problems as it suppose to believe by saying “75% deficit”

  • Jimmy says:

    I will say, Cleveland Orchestra does actually draw a larger range of ages than anywhere on the east coast at least. I agree with the other poster who said so, that’s my observation too. It does feel more “fun” in that sense, not that there’s anything bad about being old. But you have to admit, an orchestra who bases its funding on old people is guaranteed to die along with them.

    This may well have been anticipated, as this type of marketing isn’t supposed to pay off in the short term. It remains to be seen if the students will continue to go in large numbers after they are no longer students.

  • Phil says:

    Actually, the student tickets are hardly to blame. The discounts are offset by philanthropic dollars.