Wednesday, February 5, 2014

MSO Crisis: By the Numbers

Posted By on Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Yesterday, while trying to make sense of the crisis at the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, I quoted a cautious, but generally upbeat interview with former Memphis Symphony Orchestra CEO Ryan Fleur, and noted that he had every reason to be optimistic. It's important to understand that the organization's forward motion can only be understood in the context of ongoing economic difficulty. It was February, 2011, the orchestra was trying new and exciting things, and, as I noted, the ink was once again black. But things had been tougher in previous years, and the hungry bear would return in 2011 to take a bite out of the MSO's total assets. But at that moment in time new revenue and granting opportunities, and a higher public profile, gave the appearance that he MSO was ahead of the curve when it came to figuring out how manage all the challenges facing American orchestras.

Memphis' professional classical ensemble had momentum but the wind was hardly at their backs. The company had taken some real hits, and once the positive trend started, there wasn't much room for backsliding. Here are some numbers that tell a story.

Fiscal year 2008

Total revenue minus expenses : - $1,731,985

Net Assets: $2, 365, 243

Fiscal Year 2009

Total revenue minus expenses: - $388,515

Net Assets :$2,412,723 Net assets up

Fiscal Year 2010

Total revenue minus expenses: $111,961

Net assets: $2,541,365 Net assets up

Fiscal Year 2011

Total revenue minus expenses: -651,148

Net assets: $1,930541 Net assets down.

The Biggest Changes
Investment income seems to fluctuate the most. In 2008 the MSO lost $309,862. In 2009 they lost $111,700. In 2010 the number moves into the positive column to the tune of $405, 058. It stays positive in 2011, but drops significantly to $1,383.

Gifts and grants fluctuate between a low of $2,076,245 in 2008 to a high of 3,029,031 in 2010. The trend is upward by roughly a half-million per year 2008-10. In 2011 the number drops by a little less than $25,000 to $2,782,654.

Total expenses range from a low of $3,854.274 in 2009 to high of $4,765,387 in 2011. Total expenses for 2008 were also comparatively high: $$4,747,915.

Salaries and Compensation numbers were highest in 2008: $3,411,098. That figure drops to $2,763,116 in 2009 and then creeps back up to $3,367,917.

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