Orchestra's projected deficit rises to $2 million

April 24, 2004|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra expects to increase its projected deficit for the 2003-2004 season from $1.6 million to $2 million, administrative officials said yesterday. The $400,000 increase would push the orchestra's accumulated debt to about $3.2 million.

Driving the red ink are shortfalls in ticket sales for the BSO's own concerts and presentations of other performers at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, and a shortfall in contributions to the annual fund, said vice president and chief financial officer Douglas Mann. "But keep in mind that fund-raising was lagging behind at this point last year, and we still came in on budget," said board chairman Philip English. That 2002-2003 budget ended, as projected, with a $550,000 deficit. The organization's current annual operating budget is about $25 million.

The budget for the 2004-2005 season, which includes the BSO's debut at the Music Center at Strathmore in Montgomery County, has not been finalized. "I can tell you there will be a deficit," BSO president-elect James Glicker said, "but the question is how big it will be."

On the plus side for the 2004-2005 season, the BSO expects to clear $200,000 by performing on a two-week tour accompanying Linda Ronstadt this summer. And it is possible that some of the deficit could be trimmed if the annual Summer MusicFest and outdoor Oregon Ridge concert series generate strong ticket sales.

In an effort to boost the appeal of the former, wine tasting will be a part of each concert, tied to programs from wine-producing countries. And more convenient parking has been arranged at Oregon Ridge, eliminating the need for shuttle buses from a distant lot.

Last year, as the BSO's financial picture worsened, musicians agreed to various concessions aimed at saving more than $3 million before the current contract expires in 2005.

"We're very concerned, but there's also a lot of optimism about what James Glicker is going to bring to the organization," said Jane Marvine, head of the BSO players' committee. "We have been assured that the contract will not be opened again. But we also recognize the challenge the board faces, and we're always looking at ways to save as much money as possible, to generate as much money as possible and to garner donations in the most effective way possible."

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