Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Virginia Symphony cuts back

The Norfolk-based Virginia Symphony will cut the salaries of 27 staff members by 20 percent, cancel three to five spring concerts and cut other costs to trim $500,000 from its 2008-09 operating budget of $6.5 million.

Pay will not be reduced for the orchestra's 72 musicians; but JoAnn Falletta, its music director, is among those taking the 20 percent salary cut.

The Virginia Symphony ended last season with a $1.5 million deficit. It has raised $1.15 million this fall, an increase from fund-raising in fall 2007. Other anticipated donations have not materialized as the economy has soured, however, and the orchestra's line of credit is exhausted, Carla Johnson, its executive director, tells Teresa Annas of The Virginian Pilot of Norfolk:

In addition to presenting concerts from Williamsburg to Virginia Beach, the Virginia Symphony provides musicians to the Virginia Opera for three of the four productions it stages each year in Norfolk, Richmond and Fairfax. (Musicians from the Richmond Symphony perform as the opera's pit orchestra for the fourth production.)

The Virginia Opera, also based in Norfolk, has made two cuts totaling $1 million from its budget level of last season. It now projects a budget of $4.8 million for 2008-09. Next season the company will reduce from five to four the number of performances it stages in Norfolk, while continuing with two performances each in Richmond and Fairfax.

The Richmond Symphony, which ended the 2007-08 season with a $21,000 surplus on a $4.75 million operating budget, anticipates maintaining about the same budget in 2008-09, and so far is "weathering" the economic downturn, says David Fisk, its executive director.