Showcase December 2014 - page 44

Annual Report 2014
A Letter from our Leadership
A Remarkable Season of Rebuilding
with Community Engagement
When Minnesota Orchestra musicians, board and management reached an historic
settlement on a new three-year musicians’ contract on January 14, 2014, a new chapter
began in the life of the Minnesota Orchestra. New challenges pressed our organization:
How to begin rebuilding? How to re-establish trust? How to bring the separate parts of our
organization together again and welcome new members into the fold?
We began by focusing on the music—our purpose for being. Just weeks after the settlement
was agreed upon, Minnesota Orchestra musicians were back onstage at Orchestra Hall
performing four emotional, sold-out Homecoming Concerts. Immediately afterward,
we launched a six-month classical season, organized in record time and greeted by a
community eager to demonstrate support.
Symbolic of our rebuilding efforts was the work of our Community Task Force. Its members—
musicians, staff, board and community volunteers—were united behind a dual purpose:
to increase both fundraising and ticket sales for the Orchestra. Partnerships were formed
and plans developed. Task Force members hosted young audience focus groups, produced a
guide for fundraising House Parties, launched a senior outreach initiative and raised more than
$300,000 from nearly 900 individuals in a broad-based CommUNITY Challenge fundraising
campaign. What began with small, careful steps became, in the words of Task Force Chair and
board member Karen Himle, “a true barn-raising effort, led by community members.”
We were finding our way. Onstage, week after week, our musicians delivered powerful
performances. Osmo Vänskä was reinstated as Music Director in April; our artistic
leadership team was solidified as Andrew Litton, Sommerfest Artistic Director, and Sarah
Hicks, Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall, both extended contracts, and composer
Kevin Puts became Director of the Composer Institute. By the conclusion of the concert
season, the Minnesota Orchestra was proving to be markedly resilient, its efforts fueled by
community enthusiasm, its constituents sharing a unity of purpose.
These positive levels of community support are reflected in our year-end financials. The
Orchestra ended Fiscal 2014 with an operating loss of $650,000, not the $1 million deficit
anticipated—thanks primarily to strong ticket sales and fiscal year-end donations. Classical
concerts achieved 78 percent of paid capacity, and fundraising efforts yielded favorable
results at all levels: from grassroots community donors to philanthropists who contributed
$13.2 million in major gifts over the summer, encouraging others to signal support through
additional contributions.
The 2014 season brought remarkable progress in rebuilding. Yet we readily acknowledge
that the Orchestra continues to face persistent financial challenges. We believe the year past
also points the way forward—to a future in which we move beyond the trials of the labor
dispute and emerge stronger, more artistically vital and more engaged with the community
than ever before.
And for that, you hold the key. The Minnesota Orchestra’s well-being, artistically and
financially, hinges on the generosity of you, our community. We urge fans throughout the
community to keep transforming their passion for the Orchestra, so clearly demonstrated
in the midst of strife, into regular concert attendance and, crucially, contributions. The
Minnesota Orchestra belongs to all of us. And, looking to a bright future, there is just one
way to sustain this great organization: by working together.
Lower five photos: Greg Helgeson
Photo: George Heinrich Photography
Gordon Sprenger
Board Chair
Osmo Vänskä
Music Director
Kevin Smith
President and CEO
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