Leaders of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra had both good financial news and bad when they unveiled their annual report last week.
The good: The RPO's young new music director, Ward Stare, seems to be generating enthusiasm among RPO patrons. Single-ticket sales were up 19 percent last year – to a record level. Total attendance for the year was up. And the 2016-17 season seems to be off to a good start, with subscription sales for RPO season tickets up and strong sales for the RPO's blockbuster special, featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
The bad news, however, is that like many philharmonic orchestras in the United States, the RPO continues to have serious financial problems. It ended last year with an operating surplus of $234,000. But that's the result of three bequests totaling $817,000 and continued drawdown from the RPO's unrestricted endowment fund. Had it not been for that revenue, the orchestra would have had a deficit of $1.433 million.
Among the measures being taken to reverse that, interim CEO Ralph Craviso is increasing the RPO's development and marketing staff. The musicians have agreed to a salary freeze, and the RPO began broadening its offerings to attract younger audiences.