SPCO balances its 2011 budget

  • Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 7, 2011 - 11:16 AM

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra completed its eighth year in the black, but anticipates a deficit in the coming year.

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Ruggero Allifranchini, associate concertmaster of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, plays at a concert held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minn.

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra reported that it balanced its $10.9 million budget in 2011.

The orchestra has managed to achieve a balanced budget for eight years in a row.

The good news, however, is unlikely to last. The organization said it anticipates a deficit of $750,000 to $1 million for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The Minnesota Orchestra on Tuesday said it had a 2011 deficit of $2.9 million on a budget of $30 million.

Although SPCO attendance remained roughly flat at 95,000, gross ticket revenue declined by nearly 15 percent because of a strategic move to lower prices at the Ordway Center. Some of that was recouped through individual giving. Also, the lower prices have allowed the SPCO to cut marketing costs by $1 million over the past decade.

"Revenue is under extreme pressure from all sources," said Sarah Lutman, president and managing director of the SPCO. "We've had some reserves we could draw on, but the reserves are depleted because of the economy. We have to find the 'new normal.'"

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    The orchestra plans to balance its budget in 2013 by attracting new audiences, reducing the number of concerts and cutting expenses.

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