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From Red to Black: DSO Ends Season With Balanced Budget

by Jerome Weeks 16 Jul 2012 4:55 PM

Back in November, the DSO was talking about insolvency. Obviously, that didn’t happen. A projected deficit of more than $6 million was avoided, fundraising goals were actually exceeded — because of the DSO’s New Business Plan.


So far, the figures are unaudited, but the Dallas Symphony announced that it just finished its 2011-’12 season in the black — with the orchestra exceeding its fundraising goals (for corporate, foundation and individual donors) for the first time in several years.

Which is something of an achievement, considering that last November, DSO board chair Blaine Nelson was warning about possible bankruptcy because the orchestra was going to max out its credit limit in January. Seats were selling at only 65 percent capacity and donations were not coming in as expected.

Obviously, insolvency didn’t happen — because, the DSO claims, the New Business Plan it instituted at the time helped resolve its cash-flow crisis (the plan included cuts in programming and extending a wage freeze).

“For the year, the DSO balanced its budget and exceeded all key financial goals,” says the release. “During the season, the DSO expanded its donor base, added significant corporate and foundation support, and saw very positive responses to new marketing and audience development initiatives.”

But as interim president David Hyslop said in January, the crisis has been averted.  This season’s  anticipated deficit of more than $6 million has been avoided.

The real challenge now is retiring the multi-million-dollar deficit the symphony has built over the past three years.

The full release:


Budget Balanced, Anticipated Deficit Eliminated;  Significant Funds Secured for Upcoming Season

Dallas, TX (July 16, 2012) – The Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) concluded its 2011-2012 season with a balanced budget, having achieved significant and far-reaching financial gains to lay positive groundwork for sustainable and secure long-term stability.

Unaudited reports confirm the New Business Plan introduced last November led to financial success for the 2011-2012 season. For the year, the DSO balanced its budget and exceeded all key financial goals. During the season, the DSO expanded its donor base, added significant corporate and foundation support, and saw very positive response to new marketing and audience development initiatives.

The DSO has received strong sustaining support from both new and long-time donors, and enters its 2012-2013 season with significant individual and corporate funds already secured.

“We are able to announce these important and meaningful financial achievements because of the generosity of new and long-time supporters, the commitment of business and corporate partners, the enthusiasm of music lovers across North Texas, and the hard work of the DSO staff,” said Blaine L. Nelson, Chairman of the DSO Board of Governors. “We still must address significant long-term challenges, but this news shows the New Business Plan has laid strong groundwork towards a stable, secure and sustainable DSO.”

These successes are also attributed to the leadership of Music Director Jaap van Zweden, named Musical America Conductor of the Year 2012, who has inspired the DSO and Dallas Symphony Chorus to perform at the highest level.

In June, Maestro van Zweden and the DSO earned rave reviews from critics and from orchestra industry professionals after a special showcase performance at the 67th National Conference of the League of American Orchestras, hosted here in Dallas by the DSO.

“These and other musical achievements by Jaap van Zweden and the DSO have encouraged donors and patrons, and resulted in an incredible outpouring of special support,” Mr. Nelson said. “It shows how strongly people believe in the mission of our orchestra, and that they understand the DSO is not only an irreplaceable cultural asset, but a leading driver in business and economic development across North Texas.”

Support for the DSO for the 2011-2012 season includes:

  • A recent gift of $1.5 million to the Dallas Symphony Foundation to permanently endow the Linda VanSickle Associate Principal Horn Chair.
  • An anonymous bequest of $1.5 million.
  • A gift of $2 million from an anonymous donor.
  • A previously announced gift of $700,000 from the Texas Instruments (TI) Foundation, which increased to $1 million the annual combined gifts from Texas Instruments Incorporated and the Texas Instruments Foundation.

The DSO’s significant end-of-fiscal-year financial achievements also include:

  • Balancing the 2011-2012 budget, eliminating the anticipated deficit of $6.5 million.
  • For the first time in several seasons, the DSO exceeded its corporate fund-raising goal of $1.1 million.
  • For the first time in several seasons, the DSO exceeded its individual donor goal of $4.3 million.
  • The DSO received more than $1 million in support from foundations, exceeding its goal for the third consecutive year.
  • The DSO exceeded by nearly $400,000 its initial annual fund goal of $6.1 million.
  • The DSO’s 2012-2013 subscription campaign is markedly accelerated compared to prior years, and has generated more $3.5 million in 13 weeks.

As the DSO ended its 2011-2012 season, more full houses increased excitement and resulted in increased revenues from ticket sales. To satisfy rising demand, the DSO has aggressively launched new subscription campaigns to allow the greatest number of people to hear Maestro van Zweden and the DSO at the best possible price.

Also in 2012-2013, the orchestra will launch its inaugural season of DSO on the Go, with the DSO performing 17 concerts in eight communities and neighborhoods across North Texas, bringing beautiful and inspiring music directly to audiences there.

“The generosity and unwavering support resulting in deficit reduction and a balanced budget for the 2011-2012 season confirms people believe the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is an indispensable cultural asset for the City of Dallas,” Nelson said. “The DSO is a vital asset in attracting and retaining business, promoting conventions and tourism, and key to accelerated economic development across our region. We are truly appreciative of this support, and the faith placed in the long-term stability, sustainability and artistic vitality of the DSO.”