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August 20, 2015

Memphis Symphony CEO Departing as Group Rights Fiscal Ship

The chief executive hired last year to turn around the financially ailing Memphis Symphony Orchestra will step down in November after slashing costs by reaching a deal with musicians to take steep pay cuts, reports The Commercial Appeal.

The symphony was facing closure last year when it hired Roland Valliere, a turnaround specialist who had enacted similar belt-tightening at the Columbus Symphony in Ohio.

The Memphis group had depleted its $6 million endowment in 2011 and was running persistent budget deficits. Mr. Valliere cut its annual budget from $4.9 million to $3.2 million as musicians agreed last fall to a one-year contract with a shortened concert schedule, resulting in a 38-percent wage cut. The symphony also raised a $2.2 million "sustainability fund" and is seeing record subscription renewals. "The consensus is that things are much more stable now," said Mr. Valliere, who is taking up the presidency of Cape Arts & Entertainment in Cape Cod, Mass.