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November 24, 2015

Box-Office Slide Tightens Belts at Philadelphia Orchestra

The Philadelphia Orchestra saw attendance and ticket sales decline in the 2014-15 season and has cut spending for the current year, The Philadelphia Inquirer writes in an overview of the organization's finances. Orchestra officials have deferred hires and shelved or scaled back productions to trim $1.8 million and make its $44 million budget.

Attendance totaled 153,000 from September 2014 to June 2015, down from 160,000 the previous season and well short of the organization's goal of 189,000. The orchestra had a $3 million shortfall in box-office revenue and recurring donations but was able to balance its budget thanks to "additional extraordinary gifts," spokeswoman Katherine Blodgett said.

Three years after emerging from bankruptcy, the orchestra is seeking at least $100 million in pledges to build an endowment that can produce stable income amid an expected decline in special "bridge" funding — that raised above normal contributions. Musicians reluctantly agreed last month to a one-year contract in which their base pay slipped in comparison to that at other major orchestras, Inquirer classical music critic Peter Dobrin writes.