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Adaptistration
Drew McManus on the orchestra business
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Adaptistration People 031Thanks to a steady stream of growth over the past year among my Venture Platform users, I recently completed a server upgrade. As a result, that meant everything here at Adaptistration migrated as well and in the wake of that migration, I started building out the blog’s next phase.

  • A Branded Jobs Board: Adaptistration Jobs has experienced a solid growth rate over the past four years and as part of this development phase it will become its own branded arts admin jobs board destination. Don’t worry, it will remain completely free to use for both employers and job seekers. The existing job listing upgrades will remain as well but in addition to the branded re-launch will come a round of admin and employer job posting automation. The site is already the most user-friendly arts admin jobs board around and this next step will raise that bar even higher.
  • Updated Blog Framework: This will be a mostly under the hood style improvements but you’ll notice more than a few layout and user interface enhancements especially for readers.
  • Opening Up My Treasure Chest Of Research Resources: this one’s a surprise.
  • Updated Themes For The Cartoon And TAFTO Resource Site: the primary goal here is to provide an even faster user experience, especially at the cartoon site because snappier load times means more binge endorphins.

Optimally, this will all be completed and rolled out on or around September 1, 2017 so if you have any ideas, now is the time speak up.

3 months ago |
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One major development we missed last week amid the orchestra compensation reports was the class-action lawsuit filed against a host of defendants associated with the American Federation of Musicians & Employers’ Pension Fund (AMF-EPF).

Filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the suit brings action against the defendants for “for breach of fiduciary duties and other violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq.

Plaintiffs, Andrew Snitzer (“Snitzer”) and Paul Livant (“Livant”) ( collectively, “Plaintiffs”), individually and as representatives of a class of participants and beneficiaries (collectively, “participants” or the “Class”) of the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Plan (the “AFME Plan” or the “Plan”), bring this action under 29 U.S.C. § 1132 on behalf of the Plan, against Defendants, the Board of Trustees of the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund (“Board of Trustees”), the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees, Raymond M. Hair; Jr.; Augustino Gagliardi; Gary Matts; William Moriarity; Brian F. Rood; Laura Ross; Vince Trombetta; Phillip E. Yao; Christopher J. G. Brockmeyer; Michael DeMartini; Andrea Finkelstein; Elliot H. Greene; Robert W. Johnson; Alan H. Raphael; Jeffrey Ruthizer; Bill Thomas; Maureen B. Kilkelly; and Does 1-6 (collectively, “Defendants”) for breach of fiduciary duties and other violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et seq.

Adaptistration People 190Among the suit’s awards are the following highlights (p.64-65):

  • “A declaration that the Defendants breached their fiduciary duties…”
  • “An Order compelling each fiduciary found to have breached his/her/its fiduciary duties to the Plan to jointly and severally restore all losses to the Plan which resulted from the breaches of fiduciary duty or by virtue of liability…”
  • “An Order requiring the disgorgement of profits made by any Defendant…” (the plan’s investment managers have to return profits earned while managing the plan).
  • “Appointing an independent fiduciary, at the expense of the breaching fiduciaries, to administer the Plan and the management of the Plan’s investments and/or selection of
  • investments and/or to oversee the divestment of the Plan’s imprudent investments and reduction of investment management costs…”
  • “An Order requiring the Plan to divest itself of the investment in emerging markets equities and to move the Fund’s assets to passively managed investments in the same or a prudent asset class such as index funds…” (ditch the underperforming funds).
  • Removing Defendants [AFM International President Ray] Hair… and such other Trustees who, as the evidence may show, breached their fiduciary duties to the Plan, and permanently enjoining them from serving as a fiduciary of any ERISA-covered plan in which Plaintiffs or any member of the Class are participants or beneficiaries…”

It’s worth pointing out that this lawsuit is mutually exclusive efforts from Musicians For Pension Security (MPS), a watchdog group led by a group of current AFM members.

That organization released a statement on 8/2/2017 acknowledging the lawsuit along with confirming their commitment to efforts that will produce results in less time than lawsuit.

MPS applauds any effort to hold plan trustees accountable for their performance and transparency failures. However, the litigation process could take years to unfold, and during this time the trustees will be deciding the fate of our plan. In the next few years, they will determine if the plan will move into critical and declining status, and whether or not to file an application to the US Treasury for cuts to our pension benefits. We cannot let the lawsuit distract us from the key task of protecting our pension benefits.

[…]

While holding AFM-EPF trustees accountable is laudable, MPS remains focused on how plan participants can have a greater influence right now. We have retained our own independent actuary to provide a second opinion concerning the finances of our fund. MPS will continue to engage with policymakers in Washington to find solutions in plan participants’ best interests.

AFM-EPF fund managers have denied any mismanagement and assert the Plan’s performance is the result of outside economic factors. In a statement to an article by David Robb in the 7/24/17 edition of deadline.com, Maureen Kilkelly, the Plan’s executive director, provided an “it’s beyond my control” account.

“Many multiemployer pension plans across the nation are struggling with a similar ‘perfect storm’ of challenging factors. These include the volume of Baby Boomers taking retirement; more benefits being paid out to retirees and beneficiaries than contributions coming in from actives; and significantly longer pay-outs because participants are thankfully living longer.

[…]

[We] have responded prudently to all challenges and have consistently based their decisions on the counsel of proven investment advisors and actuaries. We will vigorously contest this lawsuit, and expect to prevail. Our focus will continue to be on doing everything we can to preserve the hard-earned benefits of our participants and beneficiaries.”

Download a keyword searchable copy of the lawsuit
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Each year, one of the most popular items in the orchestra compensation reports is a big picture overview of all compensation alongside Total Expenditure figures. If you’ve been looking for something that shows all the report values in a single chart, this is your article.

Update, 8/4/17 12:45pm CT: the original version of the chart contained a few music director values which were inverted between rows. The figures below are the corrected version.

ENSEMBLE
Total Expenditures
Executive Compensation
Music Director Compensation
Concertmaster Compensation
Alabama Symphony $6,467,347 $175,102 NA $124,181
Atlanta Symphony* NA $524,650 $657,424 $179,862
Austin Symphony $4,576,189 $153,208 $162,736 NA
Baltimore Symphony $27,374,158 $353,795 $1,015,937 $281,745
Boston Symphony $91,321,051 $777,296 not reported $443,715
Buffalo Philharmonic $11,477,484 $277,417 $340,597 NA
Charlotte Symphony $9,433,779 $196,867 $226,670 NA
Chattanooga Symphony $2,463,875 $96,470 NA NA
Chicago Symphony $79,160,340 NA $2,776,869 $549,963
Cincinnati Symphony $29,674,708 $410,505 $180,300 $294,868
Cleveland Orchestra $53,164,430 $629,303 $1,248,711 $501,155
Colorado Springs Philharmonic $3,355,301 $150,387 $78,900 NA
Colorado Symphony $13,010,712 NA NA $130,871
Columbus Symphony $7,608,152 NA NA NA
Dallas Symphony $36,244,884 $521,699 $2,657,139 $299,539
Dayton Philharmonic* $8,417,967 $129,209 $172,408 NA
Detroit Symphony $32,926,906 $437,007 $828,591 $201,701
Florida Orchestra $9,915,432 $175,263 NA NA
Fort Wayne Philharmonic $4,476,347 NA $134,996 $125,747
Fort Worth Symphony $12,055,857 $167,195 $376,819 NA
Grand Rapids Symphony $9,658,212 $157,681 $206,376 NA
Hartford Symphony $5,330,763 NA $181,236 NA
Houston Symphony $29,731,886 $366,376 not reported $246,191
Indianapolis Symphony $26,519,942 $330,240 $395,000 $216,872
Jacksonville Symphony $9,927,343 $109,845 NA NA
Kalamazoo Symphony $3,007,115 $90,351 $136,223 NA
Kansas City Symphony $15,505,038 $262,922 $437,533 $182,861
Knoxville Symphony $3,827,950 $125,770 $114,400 NA
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra $3,920,652 $144,518 $179,475 NA
Los Angeles Philharmonic $120,420,205 $1,714,486 $1,906,100 $524,910
Louisville Orchestra $5,914,881 $146,731 NA NA
Memphis Symphony $3,422,872 $187,236 NA NA
Milwaukee Symphony $16,498,565 $230,845 $402,308 $174,692
Minnesota Orchestra $32,624,790 $1,048,686 $241,377 $160,995
Nashville Symphony $25,358,267 $339,436 $415,739 $173,840
National Symphony* NA $305,762 not reported $378,254
New Jersey Symphony $12,517,433 $161,009 $212,100 $182,777
New York Philharmonic $76,591,182 $675,984 $1,672,450 $437,538
North Carolina Symphony $13,472,075 $221,454 $242,296 $121,483
Omaha Symphony $7,025,131 $182,735 $162,025 NA
Oregon Symphony $16,014,735 NA $391,723 $165,124
Pasadena Symphony $3,691,395 $130,000 NA NA
Pacific Symphony $20,042,011 $301,149 $416,836 $181,978
Philadelphia Orchestra $49,826,461 $776,143 $1,110,000 $406,355
Phoenix Symphony $11,145,099 $297,607 NA NA
Pittsburgh Symphony $34,558,633 NA $504,599 $283,187
Portland (ME) Symphony $3,513,250 $106,289 $142,491 NA
Richmond Symphony $5,127,052 $122,583 $108,732 NA
Rochester Philharmonic $10,354,890 $148,530 NA NA
Saint Louis Symphony $27,947,449 NA $1,042,644 $278,216
San Antonio Symphony $8,055,451 $142,302 $274,268 NA
San Diego Symphony $24,076,477 $428,855 $466,780 $231,920
San Francisco Symphony $78,866,104 $542,638 $2,715,815 $640,714
Santa Rosa Symphony $4,093,110 $188,801 $114,315 NA
Sarasota Orchestra $8,637,583 $176,441 $119,980 NA
Seattle Symphony $27,365,107 $312,329 $543,169 $200,192
Spokane Symphony $2,874,695 $120,719 not reported NA
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra $10,971,007 $271,197 NA $209,586
Symphony Silicon Valley $4,108,118 $143,585 NA NA
Toledo Symphony $5,547,373 $111,731 $123,600 NA
Tucson Symphony $4,407,192 $92,506 $135,752 NA
Utah Symphony $20,335,607 $259,909 $469,644 $185,622
Virginia Symphony $6,683,835 NA $156,000 NA
West Virginia Symphony $2,943,782 NA $175,852 NA

* Due to the nature of operating as an entity within a larger 501(c)3, Total Expenditure figures for National Symphony and Atlanta Symphony are not included.

Did you know? Direct links to most of the orchestra’s financial disclosure documents at guidestar.org are available in the Orchestra Financial Reports.

16 Year Trends

Although the Orchestra Compensation Reports have been around since 2005 (which covered the 2003/04 season) my 990 archive extends back through the 1999/00 season. Consequently, this overview article is an excellent vehicle for reaching back into those archives usually reserved for consulting work and extracting information to share.

To that end, I’m happy to say that this year’s installment will include a new dynamic charting tool that will make it easier to not only provide charts and graphs for changes in average compensation per stakeholder, but overlay them into a single chart. All of this makes it much easier to visualize the bigger picture (as an aside, keep your eyes out for some exciting news in August on this item).

16 year executive average

Average Executive Compensation From 1999/00 Season Through 2014/15 Season

16 year music director average

Average Music Director Compensation From 1999/00 Season Through 2014/15 Season

16 year concertmaster average

Average Concertmaster Compensation From 1999/00 Season Through 2014/15 Season

The Deliberation Continues

When the compensation reports were launched back in 2005, there was a great deal of reader discussion about the value of each stakeholder group along with questions about why they didn’t share comparatively equal gains and losses from one season to the next. In the wake of the economic downturn, those discussions began to wane but a few key areas have once again sparked that core discussion.

For example, the supposedly shared sacrifice of Philadelphia Orchestra’s CEO during their bankruptcy was quickly followed by a complete restoration and a host of bonuses and perks (details). Last year’s discovery of a $3,321,541 signing bonus for Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s music director during the 2013/14 season was tempered by the organization’s spokespersons by framing it as a one-time anomaly. Nonetheless, the following season produced 48.5 percent increase over 2012/13 compensation.

It will be fascinating to see whether or not there are any changes in how boards initially set and evaluate compensation for executive and music director stakeholders. Based on the patterns from the past few available seasons, there doesn’t appear to be much inclination to control those expenditures. For music directors in particular, the rate of increase in average compensation actually increased over the previous decade after a single year drop in the 2008/09 season.

Since its inception in 2005, the purpose of the Orchestra Compensation Reports is to help reinforce the value of transparency and inspire patrons to create a stronger connection with their local orchestra and how it functions.

To that end, it has been wonderful watching discussions across social media and other media outlets unfold. Yes, there’s always going to be an element of salaciousness but that quickly melts away into more meaningful discussions surrounding the systems used to determine whether the field is rewarding effort or achievement.

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The 2014/15 season marked the third consecutive season average concertmaster compensation declined since its $289,986 peak in 2011/12. Moreover, the 3.39 percent drop since 2013/14 is the largest decline during that period.

Otherwise, the only remarkable item about the 2014/15 season is this was the most complete set of concertmaster compensation figures available since the 2004/05 thanks to not having a single orchestra with a concertmaster vacancy during this time period.

The Information

2017 Orchestra Compensation Reports: ConcertmastersIn order to provide information that is as accurate as possible, info from the 2014/15 season is gathered from the following source:

  • Concertmaster compensation figures were obtained from their respective orchestra’s IRS Form 990 for the 2014/15 concert season.

Adaptistration makes no claim to the accuracy of information from documents compiled or reported by external sources. If you have reason to believe any of the information is inaccurate or has changed since reported in any of the above sources and you can provide documentation to such effect, please feel free to use the following form to submit a notice.

Open The Orchestra Compensation Reports Contact Form

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Did you know? Direct links to most of the orchestra’s financial disclosure documents at guidestar.org are available in the Orchestra Financial Reports.

An Important Note About Concertmaster Compensation Reporting

Due to the changes in the IRS Form 990 several years ago, there are fewer concertmaster figures to report as compared to executives and music directors. Up until the 2008/09 season, nonprofit organizations were required to list a fixed number of employees who earned over $50,000/year, but the IRS increased that threshold to $100,000 for the 2008/09 season.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, quite a few concertmasters earning more than $50,000 but less than $100,000 no longer appear on their respective orchestra’s Form 990.

As a result, concertmaster compensation figures tend to only appear for larger and mid budget size orchestras. Any orchestra in that grouping that does not report a concertmaster compensation is likely a sign that:

  • their concertmaster position was unfilled for that season.
  • the concertmaster earned over $100,000 but because didn’t earn enough to be included in the threshold of employees listed in the 990.

An unusual byproduct of the IRS reporting threshold modification in the 2008/09 season is average compensation values after that point are comparatively higher than before thanks to missing all of those sub $100k values. Consequently, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect that average compensation figures would increase following that season but as you can see in the following chart, those averages initially dropped then fluctuated between a series of increases and decreases.

Sorry, this information is no longer available.

* season where change to IRS reporting threshold was implemented.

Who Is This Concertmaster Person Anyway?

Cat and the FiddleFor those not already familiar with the concertmaster position, this is the title reserved for the principal seat within the 1st violin section. More often than not, this is the musician you see walking out on stage at the beginning of the concert to initiate the orchestra’s tuning process before the conductor emerges.

Although concertmasters are included within every orchestra’s collective bargaining agreement, they also negotiate a mutually exclusive agreement with the orchestra detailing compensation and additional duties exclusive to that position. For example, it isn’t uncommon for a concertmaster to be featured as a soloist with the orchestra at least once a year. As such, their annual income will fluctuate based on the number of solo appearances and respective fees they negotiate with their organization.

Additionally, concertmasters are required to perform any of the numerous internal solos incorporated into any given piece of music (such as the famous violin solo from Scheherazade). Beyond actual performing duties, concertmasters (along with other principal seat string musicians) are usually required to perform additional duties such as bowings (which are markings placed throughout a string player’s sheet music that indicate which direction to move the bow. This allows each section of strings to move their bows in unison and enhance to the sense of phrasing a conductor wishes to use.

A common perk associated with many concertmaster individual contracts are clauses excluding them from having to perform during some non-masterwork oriented concerts (such as holiday, pops, or educational concerts). As this clause is not uniform, the frequency and type of concerts concertmasters are excluded from participating vary from one musician to the next. It is also one of the reasons why orchestras may have one or two additional violinists within the orchestra who serve under the title of associate or assistant concertmaster.

Regardless of the additional clauses a concertmaster negotiates in his/her personal contract, they are afforded the same base workplace protection and representation guaranteed all musicians under the organization’s collective bargaining agreement.

If you’re interested in learning more about a concertmaster’s duties and responsibilities, read It’s More Than Wearing Pretty Shoes by Chattanooga Symphony & Opera concertmaster Holly Mulcahy.

2014/15 Season Concertmaster Compensation

ENSEMBLE
CONCERTMASTER COMPENSATION
$ CHANGE
% CHANGE
Alabama Symphony $124,181 ($6,694) -5.11%
Atlanta Symphony $179,862 NA NA
Baltimore Symphony $281,745 ($15,327) -5.16%
Boston Symphony $443,715 ($35,220) -7.35%
Chicago Symphony $549,963 $169 0.03%
Cincinnati Symphony $294,868 $14,777 5.28%
Cleveland Orchestra $501,155 ($2,418) -0.48%
Colorado Symphony $130,871 $14,403 12.37%
Dallas Symphony $299,539 $33,676 12.67%
Detroit Symphony $201,701 ($3,951) -1.92%
Fort Worth Symphony $125,747 ($516) -0.41%
Houston Symphony $246,191 $31,390 14.61%
Indianapolis Symphony $216,872 ($12,198) -5.33%
Kansas City Symphony $182,861 $10,036 5.81%
Los Angeles Philharmonic $524,910 ($29,299) -5.29%
Milwaukee Symphony $174,692 $1,755 1.01%
Minnesota Orchestra $160,995 NA NA
Nashville Symphony $173,840 ($14,229) -7.57%
National Symphony $378,254 $9,787 2.66%
New Jersey Symphony $182,777 ($2,496) -1.35%
New York Philharmonic $437,538 ($178,386) -28.96%
North Carolina Symphony $121,483 NA NA
Oregon Symphony $165,124 $12,322 8.06%
Pacific Symphony $181,978 $6,232 3.55%
Philadelphia Orchestra $406,355 $20,538 5.32%
Pittsburgh Symphony $283,187 ($33,774) -10.66%
Saint Louis Symphony $278,216 $6,283 2.31%
San Diego Symphony $231,920 $29,450 14.55%
San Francisco Symphony $640,714 $76,969 13.65%
Seattle Symphony $200,192 $66,109 49.30%
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra $209,586 $82,713 65.19%
Utah Symphony $185,622 $5,116 2.83%
Average $272,395

Top 10 Earners

  1. San Francisco Symphony: $640,714
  2. Chicago Symphony: $549,963
  3. Los Angeles Philharmonic: $524,910
  4. Cleveland Orchestra: $501,155
  5. Boston Symphony: $443,715
  6. New York Philharmonic: $437,538
  7. Philadelphia Orchestra: $406,355
  8. National Symphony: $378,254
  9. Dallas Symphony: $299,539
  10. Cincinnati Symphony: $294,868
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It’s tough to imagine this year’s report could top the $5,110,538 Dallas Symphony Orchestra bombshell from 2016, and at the risk of burying the lead, that’s exactly that case. Having said that, there are more than enough fascinating developments to examine.

The Information

In order to provide information that is as accurate as possible, info from the 2014/15 season is gathered from the following sources:

  • Music Director compensation figures were obtained from their respective orchestra’s IRS Form 990 for the 2014/15 concert season.
  • Total Expenditures were also obtained from each respective orchestra’s IRS Form 990 for the 2014/15 concert season.

Adaptistration makes no claim to the accuracy of information from documents compiled or reported by external sources. If you have reason to believe any of the information is inaccurate or has changed since reported in any of the above sources and you can provide documentation to such effect, please feel free to use the following form to submit a notice.

Open The Orchestra Compensation Reports Contact Form

  • doc, docx, and pdf only. 10MB max filesize. Drop files here or Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf.
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Did you know? Direct links to most of the orchestra’s financial disclosure documents at guidestar.org are available in the Orchestra Financial Reports.

What The Numbers Don’t Show

It is important to remember that the numbers shown do not always convey a complete compensation picture. For example, a music director may have had a large increase in salary because they were leaving a position and per terms of their contract they may have received a sizeable severance or deferred compensation package. As such, the cumulative compensation may artificially inflate annual earnings. Furthermore, these figures may not reflect bonuses or other incentive payments, therefore underreporting what conductors may actually earn.

Also missing from the figures are expense accounts, lodging expenses, and other perks; as such, the cumulative compensation for music directors may or may not be more than what is listed. Additionally, the documents used to gather figures do not indicate how much of the season an individual received a salary. As such, excessive adjustments in the percentage change from the previous season’s compensation may be artificially adjusted. Although the music director compensation figures include the combined amounts reported as what the IRS classifies as “compensation” and “contributions to employee benefit plans & deferred compensation,” each orchestra does not always report figures for the latter category.

How Terms Impact Compensation

Unlike executives, concertmasters, and musicians, music directors are sometimes employed as private contractors. In these cases, orchestras will list the music director among the five highest paid private contractors as opposed to sections devoted to employee compensation. In most of these instances, no information about benefits or deferred compensation is available.

Likewise, some music directors receive separate payments for duties associated with their position. For example, for several fiscal years the Seattle Symphony Orchestra paid former music director Gerard Schwarz via two separate private contractor listings: once for music director duties and the other for principal conducting duties. At the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, when Daniel Barenboim was with the organization, he was often paid separately for music director services and then again as conductor and soloist.

In instances such as these, those figures have been combined into a single figure in the table below. For details about each individual conductor’s compensation, please consult the orchestra’s respective IRS Form 990.

2014/15 Season Music Director Compensation

ENSEMBLE
TOTAL EXPENDITURES
MUSIC DIR COMPENSATION
$ CHANGE
% CHANGE
Alabama Symphony $6,467,347 NA NA NA
Atlanta Symphony* NA $657,424 $54,758 9.09%
Austin Symphony $4,576,189 $162,736 $2,733 1.71%
Baltimore Symphony $27,374,158 $1,015,937 $101,190 11.06%
Boston Symphony $91,321,051 not reported
Buffalo Philharmonic $11,477,484 $340,597 $10,297 3.12%
Charlotte Symphony $9,433,779 $226,670 $30,731 15.68%
Chattanooga Symphony $2,463,875 NA NA NA
Chicago Symphony $79,160,340 $2,776,869 $467,032 20.22%
Cincinnati Symphony $29,674,708 $180,300 NA NA
Cleveland Orchestra $53,164,430 $1,248,711 $271,215 27.75%
Colorado Springs Philharmonic $3,355,301 $78,900 $1,875 2.43%
Colorado Symphony $13,010,712 NA NA NA
Columbus Symphony $7,608,152 NA NA NA
Dallas Symphony $36,244,884 $2,657,139 ($2,453,399) -48.01%
Dayton Philharmonic $8,417,967 $172,408 ($2,350) -1.34%
Detroit Symphony $32,926,906 $828,591 $27,634 3.45%
Florida Orchestra $9,915,432 NA NA NA
Fort Wayne Philharmonic $4,476,347 $134,996 $14,066 11.63%
Fort Worth Symphony $12,055,857 $376,819 ($10,686) -2.76%
Grand Rapids Symphony $9,658,212 $206,376 $149 0.07%
Hartford Symphony $5,330,763 $181,236 $2,627 1.47%
Houston Symphony $29,731,886 not reported
Indianapolis Symphony $26,519,942 $395,000 $5,660 1.45%
Jacksonville Symphony $9,927,343 NA NA NA
Kalamazoo Symphony $3,007,115 $136,223 $3,664 2.76%
Kansas City Symphony $15,505,038 $437,533 $58,783 15.52%
Knoxville Symphony $3,827,950 $114,400 ($15,649) -12.03%
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra $3,920,652 $179,475 $12,925 7.76%
Los Angeles Philharmonic $120,420,205 $1,906,100 $244,607 14.72%
Louisville Orchestra $5,914,881 NA NA NA
Memphis Symphony $3,422,872 NA NA NA
Milwaukee Symphony $16,498,565 $402,308 ($34,884) -7.98%
Minnesota Orchestra $32,624,790 $241,377 ($74,794) -23.66%
Nashville Symphony $25,358,267 $415,739 ($11,848) -2.77%
National Symphony* NA not reported
New Jersey Symphony $12,517,433 $212,100 ($13,650) -6.05%
New York Philharmonic $76,591,182 $1,672,450 ($79,120) -4.52%
North Carolina Symphony $13,472,075 $242,296 $5,713 2.41%
Omaha Symphony $7,025,131 $162,025 $4,325 2.74%
Oregon Symphony $16,014,735 $391,723 $57,828 17.32%
Pasadena Symphony $3,691,395 NA NA NA
Pacific Symphony $20,042,011 $416,836 ($6,799) -1.60%
Philadelphia Orchestra $49,826,461 $1,110,000 $590,681 113.74%
Phoenix Symphony $11,145,099 NA NA NA
Pittsburgh Symphony $34,558,633 $504,599 ($157,096) -23.74%
Portland (ME) Symphony $3,513,250 $142,491 $3,801 2.74%
Richmond Symphony $5,127,052 $108,732 $60 0.06%
Rochester Philharmonic $10,354,890 NA NA NA
Saint Louis Symphony $27,947,449 $1,042,644 ($669) -0.06%
San Antonio Symphony $8,055,451 $274,268 $33,919 14.11%
San Diego Symphony $24,076,477 $466,780 ($31,651) -6.35%
San Francisco Symphony $78,866,104 $2,715,815 $609,895 28.96%
Santa Rosa Symphony $4,093,110 $114,315 $4,815 4.40%
Sarasota Orchestra $8,637,583 $119,980 NA NA
Seattle Symphony $27,365,107 $543,169 $79,368 17.11%
Spokane Symphony $2,874,695 not reported
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra $10,971,007 NA NA NA
Symphony Silicon Valley $4,108,118 NA NA NA
Toledo Symphony $5,547,373 $123,600 ($50,850) -29.15%
Tucson Symphony $4,407,192 $135,752 $9,686 7.68%
Utah Symphony $20,335,607 $469,644 ($46,231) -8.96%
Virginia Symphony $6,683,835 $156,000 $3,000 1.96%
West Virginia Symphony $2,943,782 $175,852 $15,052 9.36%
Average $20,251,381 $569,679

* Due to the nature of operating as an entity within a larger 501(c)3, Total Expenditure figures for National Symphony and Atlanta Symphony are not included.

Top 10 Earners

  1. Chicago Symphony: $2,776,869
  2. San Francisco Symphony: $2,715,815
  3. Dallas Symphony: $2,657,139
  4. Los Angeles Philharmonic: $1,906,100
  5. New York Philharmonic: $1,672,450
  6. Cleveland Orchestra: $1,248,711
  7. Philadelphia Orchestra: $1,110,000
  8. Saint Louis Symphony: $1,042,644
  9. Baltimore Symphony: $1,015,937*
  10. Detroit Symphony: $828,591

* Fun Fact: this is the first time a music director at this orchestra earned more than $1mm.

2017 Orchestra Compensation Reports: Music Directors

The “Not Reporteds”

Although Spokane is a regular in the “Not Reported” group, Boston Symphony and Houston Symphony both have a long history of reporting music director compensation. What’s interesting in both groups is the 2014/15 season was the first full season for both of their respective music directors. Keep an eye out for updated information after each of these groups are contacted for clarification.

How A Multi-Million Dollar Compensation Package May Not Be Enough To Report

One particularly intriguing scenario among the “not reported” figures is the National Symphony Orchestra.

For context, the 2014/15 season was then music director Christoph Eschenbach’s final season. During his tenure with the orchestra, he was regularly among the Top 10 highest paid music directors in the country; in fact, the organization’s 2013/14 990 reported he was paid $2,274,151 as an independent contractor.

However, he wasn’t anywhere to be found on their 2014/15 filing.

According to the Kennedy Center’s Form 990, the lowest amount among their five highest paid independent contractors during the 2014/15 season was $2,709,973 (Restaurant Associates Inc. for catering services). Consequently, in order make it into that top-five threshold, Eschenbach would need a 20 percent increase over his previous season’s compensation.

As it turns out, it’s entirely possible he didn’t earn enough to be included in that group and since he isn’t compensated as an employee, the organization isn’t required to list it alongside those figures in Schedule J. Instead, they are only required to list the total number of independent contractors beyond the top five who earned $100,000 or more (for the record, the Kennedy Center reported “79” for that value).

It May Not Be $5mm, But A 48.5% Increase Isn’t Exactly Chump Change Either

It may not be $5,110,538, but Dallas Symphony music director Jaap van Zweden’s $2,657,139 is worth a second look in that it is still 48.5 percent more than what the organization stated as music director salary for the previous season:

  • 2012/13: $1,505,052
  • 2013/14: $1,788,997
    (this is the amount from the $5,110,538 payout the DSO qualified as music director salary).
  • 2014/15: $2,657,139

As a result, that places him alongside what Riccardo Muti was paid by the Chicago Symphony ($2,776,869) and Michael Tilson Thomas was paid by the San Francisco Symphony ($2,715,815). Compared to what the Dallas Symphony has historically paid its music directors, this figure represents a substantial increase.

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When it comes to executive compensation, the 2014/15 season witnessed one key benchmark in the form of the highest ever severance payout to an executive. After filtering out that anomaly, the average executive compensation increased by approximately four percent and you were the only stakeholder group to experience an average increase.

The Information

In order to provide information that is as accurate as possible, info from the 2014/15 season is gathered from the following sources:

  • Executive compensation figures were obtained from their respective orchestra’s IRS Form 990 for the 2014/15 concert season.
  • Total Expenditures were also obtained from each respective orchestra’s IRS Form 990 for the 2014/15 concert season (due to their relationship within a larger performing arts structure, Total Expenditure figures for National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and Dayton Philharmonic are estimates).

Adaptistration makes no claim to the accuracy of information from documents compiled or reported by external sources. If you have reason to believe any of the information is inaccurate or has changed since reported in any of the above sources and you can provide documentation to such effect, please feel free to use the following form to submit a notice.

Open The Orchestra Compensation Reports Contact Form

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Did you know? Direct links to most of the orchestra’s financial disclosure documents at guidestar.org are available in the Orchestra Financial Reports.

What The Numbers Don’t Show

It is important to remember that the numbers shown do not always convey a complete compensation picture. For example, an executive director may have had a large increase in salary due to a severance or deferred compensation package owed when the position was vacated. Additionally, the documents used to gather figures do not indicate how much of the season an individual received a salary. As such, the cumulative compensation may artificially inflate annual earnings. Conversely, reported figures may not reflect bonuses or other incentive payments, therefore underreporting what executives may actually earn. As such, the cumulative compensation executives may differ from what is listed.

If you’re curious about exactly how much of a difference can exist, the Philadelphia Orchestra bankruptcy proceeding shed a sliver of light onto the river of unspecified compensation executives can garner by way of perks and benefits. Details were reported in an article published on 3/2/2012.

For additional details about any individual executive’s compensation in any given season, you should review the corresponding IRS Form 990 for any statements, notes, and/or addendums provided by the organization to explain compensation abnormalities.

2014/15 Season Executive Compensation

ENSEMBLE
TOTAL EXPENDITURES
EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION
$ CHANGE
% CHANGE
Alabama Symphony $6,467,347 $175,102 ($6,780) -3.73%
Atlanta Symphony* NA $524,650 $79,427 17.84%
Austin Symphony $4,576,189 $153,208 $4,476 3.01%
Baltimore Symphony $27,374,158 $353,795 $87,488 32.85%
Boston Symphony $91,321,051 $777,296 ($75,311) -8.83%
Buffalo Philharmonic $11,477,484 $277,417 $18,210 7.03%
Charlotte Symphony $9,433,779 $196,867 ($6,252) -3.08%
Chattanooga Symphony $2,463,875 $96,470 $3,750 4.04%
Chicago Symphony $79,160,340 NA NA NA
Cincinnati Symphony $29,674,708 $410,505 $1,926 0.47%
Cleveland Orchestra $53,164,430 $629,303 ($17,510) -2.71%
Colorado Springs Philharmonic $3,355,301 $150,387 $5,586 3.86%
Colorado Symphony $13,010,712 NA NA NA
Columbus Symphony $7,608,152 NA NA NA
Dallas Symphony $36,244,884 $521,699 $128,378 32.64%
Dayton Philharmonic $8,417,967 $129,209 $14,809 12.94%
Detroit Symphony $32,926,906 $437,007 $25,638 6.23%
Florida Orchestra $9,915,432 $175,263 ($4,586) -2.55%
Fort Wayne Philharmonic $4,476,347 NA NA NA
Fort Worth Symphony $12,055,857 $167,195 $107 0.06%
Grand Rapids Symphony $9,658,212 $157,681 $18,516 13.31%
Hartford Symphony $5,330,763 NA NA NA
Houston Symphony $29,731,886 $366,376 ($32,466) -8.14%
Indianapolis Symphony $26,519,942 $330,240 $70,129 26.96%
Jacksonville Symphony $9,927,343 $109,845 NA NA
Kalamazoo Symphony $3,007,115 $90,351 NA NA
Kansas City Symphony $15,505,038 $262,922 $27,774 11.81%
Knoxville Symphony $3,827,950 $125,770 $17,425 16.08%
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra $3,920,652 $144,518 $9,444 6.99%
Los Angeles Philharmonic $120,420,205 $1,714,486 $127,666 8.05%
Louisville Orchestra $5,914,881 $146,731 $24,331 19.88%
Memphis Symphony $3,422,872 $187,236 NA NA
Milwaukee Symphony $16,498,565 $230,845 $16,233 7.56%
Minnesota Orchestra $32,624,790 $1,048,686 $621,265 145.35%
Nashville Symphony $25,358,267 $339,436 ($10,044) -2.87%
National Symphony* NA $305,762 $11,739 3.99%
New Jersey Symphony $12,517,433 $161,009 $47,234 41.52%
New York Philharmonic $76,591,182 $675,984 $49,495 7.90%
North Carolina Symphony $13,472,075 $221,454 $1,696 0.77%
Omaha Symphony $7,025,131 $182,735 $30,140 19.75%
Oregon Symphony $16,014,735 NA NA NA
Pasadena Symphony $3,691,395 $130,000 ($5,000) -3.70%
Pacific Symphony $20,042,011 $301,149 ($26,687) -8.14%
Philadelphia Orchestra $49,826,461 $776,143 $42,901 5.85%
Phoenix Symphony $11,145,099 $297,607 $99,928 50.55%
Pittsburgh Symphony $34,558,633 NA NA NA
Portland (ME) Symphony $3,513,250 $106,289 $7,770 7.89%
Richmond Symphony $5,127,052 $122,583 $6,278 5.40%
Rochester Philharmonic $10,354,890 $148,530 ($17,039) -10.29%
Saint Louis Symphony $27,947,449 NA NA NA
San Antonio Symphony $8,055,451 $142,302 NA NA
San Diego Symphony $24,076,477 $428,855 $39,633 10.18%
San Francisco Symphony $78,866,104 $542,638 ($14,674) -2.63%
Santa Rosa Symphony $4,093,110 $188,801 $12,609 7.16%
Sarasota Orchestra $8,637,583 $176,441 ($4,303) -2.38%
Seattle Symphony $27,365,107 $312,329 $14,549 4.89%
Spokane Symphony $2,874,695 $120,719 ($174) -0.14%
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra $10,971,007 $271,197 $130,650 92.96%
Symphony Silicon Valley $4,108,118 $143,585 $10,505 7.89%
Toledo Symphony $5,547,373 $111,731 ($16,174) -12.65%
Tucson Symphony $4,407,192 $92,506 ($28,783) -23.73%
Utah Symphony $20,335,607 $259,909 ($49,836) -16.09%
Virginia Symphony $6,683,835 NA NA NA
West Virginia Symphony $2,943,782 NA NA NA
Averages $20,251,381 $308,347

* Due to the nature of operating as an entity within a larger 501(c)3, Total Expenditure figures for National Symphony and Atlanta Symphony are not included.

Top 10 Earners

  1. Los Angeles Philharmonic: $1,714,486
  2. Minnesota Orchestra: $1,048,686
  3. Boston Symphony: $777,296
  4. Philadelphia Orchestra: $776,143
  5. New York Philharmonic: $675,984
  6. Cleveland Orchestra: $629,303
  7. San Francisco Symphony: $542,638
  8. Atlanta Symphony: $524,650
  9. Dallas Symphony: $521,699
  10. Detroit Symphony: $437,007

2017 Orchestra Compensation Reports: Executives

Items Of Note

The one item stands out above all others in the form of the Minnesota Orchestra’s 145.35% increase in executive compensation.

For the sake of context, the 2014/15 season is when the organization emerged from its season long work stoppage. In what may perhaps be best described as an internal power struggle between then President & CEO, Michael Henson, and returning Music Director, Osmo Vanska, the latter ended up continuing his tenure. Having said that, the 990 makes it clear that he took a large part of the organization’s annual expenditures with him.

Schedule J, Part II. B.ii. reports $333,818 was paid as “Bonus & Incentive Compensation” while B.iii. reports $404,987 was paid as “Other Reportable Compensation.” This was in addition to his base compensation ($279,649), retirement and other deferred compensation ($10,400), and nontaxable benefits ($19,832). As a result, Henson’s cumulative compensation reached $1,048,686.

Currently, this is the heaviest golden parachute recorded since the reports began in 2005.

Minnesota Orchestra Schedule J 2014-15 Season

Source: Minnesota Orchestra 2014/15 Season IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part II

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As is the case with every annual orchestra compensation report, the most important element to keep in mind is these figures encompass the 2014/15 season and not the current season. Although it isn’t unusual to expect that the most recent figures available would cover the previous season, that’s not how things work thanks to these reasons:

  1. Most professional orchestras maintain a fiscal year structure that begins and ends at some point from June to August; as a result, they tend to file their annual return several months later than the typical April 15 deadline.
  2. When you add that date against the length of time the IRS takes to process and release the returns (anywhere from six to nine months), you arrive at the reason why the report covers a season later than expected.

The result is the most recent season available with data for every potential orchestra in these reports is two seasons behind the current season.

Notable Events

Orchestra Compensation Reports 2017 IntroductionAlthough we’ll be examining each of the items below in greater detail via their respective article, here are some highlights you can look forward to:

  • The 2014/15 season saw the highest ever severance payout to an executive.
  • One orchestra crossed the $1 million music director compensation threshold for the first time in their history.
  • Several vacant concertmaster positions were filled in this season; as a result, this year’s concertmaster report is the most complete since the 2004/05 season.
  • The overview article at the end of the series will include a live chart showing the average of all stakeholders over the course of 16 years!
  • Average executive compensation saw the largest percent increase since the 2010/11 season.

New For 2017: Watching The Transparency Process Unfold Firsthand

Since its inception in 2005, the purpose of the Orchestra Compensation Reports is to help reinforce the value of transparency and inspire patrons to create a stronger connection with their local orchestra and how it functions.

The 2017 reports are the first time all the routine talking points on ethics and transparency are simultaneously the focus of nearly daily national media attention on the current presidential administration.

One of the central elements in the discussions here and at the national level is what, precisely, constitutes as acceptable levels of transparency.

As a 501(c)3, orchestras are required to report information for officers, directors, individual trustees, key employees, and highest compensated employees.

Having said that, the information does not always listed in an organization’s 990.

The most common reasons are because a position had one or more employees severing for temporary periods of time, a position was left unfilled during the reporting timeframe, or the key employee doesn’t exist. Good examples of the latter are Symphony Silicon Valley and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in that neither organization employs a full-time music director. Consequently, it should come as no surprise to see a “not applicable” (NA) value for those groups in the music director compensation report.

Typically, whenever an organization’s 990 is missing compensation figures for one or more stakeholder and the reason isn’t something easily verified, I reach out to inquire. In most cases, the organization promptly responds, confirms the oversight, and provides the information along with any corresponding clarification.

Over the past 16 years, this all happens in advance of a report’s publication; but this year will be different.

Considering the heightened sense of national awareness around fiscal transparency, this year’s reports will be published with notes indicating any unreported figures and I’ll be reaching out to those groups with requests for missing information afterward.

The goal is to provide a more realistic sense of how often information is missing and confirm an organization’s commitment to the spirit of compensation transparency.

A follow-up article pointing out the updated chart information will be published after each orchestra has had at least two weeks to provide information.

Requests for information will be sent to any orchestra with a “not reported” compensation value on Friday, 8/4/2017 but if you represent an organization that has unreported information, please know you can reach out directly prior to that date to provide the information using the forms embedded into each article as well as the general contact page.

For those who do, that will be included as a note in the updated chart.

Are The Musician Compensation Figures Back?

Unfortunately, no.

The 2013 Compensation Reports saw the single largest change since they were launched in 2005; namely, the exclusion of base musician compensation figures. Although the reports have always maintained a goal of providing as comprehensive an overview as possible between stakeholder compensation, the year’s reports are still unable to incorporate base musician compensation figures due to the same root problem related to the unreliability of the source data. Hopefully, the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and its player conferences that gather the data will make necessary corrections and allow those figures to return for next year’s reports. You can learn more about this change in the 2012 Compensation Reports introduction article.

Publication Schedule

  • Tuesday, 8/1/2017: Executives
  • Wednesday, 8/2/2017: Music Directors
  • Thursday, 8/3/2017: Concertmasters
  • Friday, 8/4/2017: Overview and multi-year averages

Curious About Figures From Previous Seasons?

Then visit the Orchestra Compensation Reports archive where you’ll find links to each article in the series dating back to 2005. Articles from this year’s installment will be added as they are published.

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Not too long ago, you could accurately describe the Louisville Orchestra as beleaguered or embattled, but things are starting to look up in the wake of new three-year agreement.

Full terms have yet to be released but base musician salary will increase five percent in the first year and three percent during years two and three. Likewise, the orchestra will expand their season from 33 weeks to 34 starting in the second year.

Adaptistration People 147The organization plans to restore one musician to the salaried roster and by the final year of the agreement, base musician compensation is expected to reach $37,167.

Among details that have yet to be clarified are revised work rules related to outreach events.

Additional details are available in a report by Arts & Culture reporter Ashlie Stevens in the 7/24/2017 edition of wfpl.org as well as an article by Carolyn Tribble Greer in the 7/19/17 edition of Louisville Business First.

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Although we could have a long chat about employee oriented onboarding procedures, today’s post touches on how you can leverage some of those concepts to improve your web engagement.

Adaptistration People 052If this bit of jargon is new to you, onboarding is the procedures used to effectively integrate someone like new employee into an organization and/or familiarize with processes and policies. This is often applied to customer service points of contact as well and that’s the context we’ll examine today.

I wrote an article about this for ArtsHacker that provides a good bit of nuts-and-bolts information about how to go about the process, but the idea came after receiving an email from a local arts organization announcing their new website.

The email itself was fine; they highlighted several new features and functionality, all of which made the email quite long. Moreover, it was very text heavy with only a few screencaps pointing out each new item.

Since then, I’ve received nothing from this group about the new site and it dawned on me at what a lost opportunity this was.

As it turns out, I had a Venture Platform client launch their newly designed website this week (lookingglasstheatre.org) and in advance of the announcement, we talked about what they can do to make use of onboarding techniques to improve overall engagement; and more importantly, get their existing patron base using the new features designed to improve conversion.

They decided to include onboarding style content as part of their next few regular weekly email campaigns, such as highlighting a new mini-calendar appearing on the home and single event pages that visitors can use to jump right into the ticket purchase pathway.

LTC

Subsequent messages will continue to focus on similar items along with new and expanded information about their show archive and ensemble members.

Not only will this approach increase overall engagement but it will indirectly train existing site visitors on how to navigate the changes from old to new designs. A good bit of what you’ll read about in the ArtsHacker article is incorporated into Lookingglass’ subsequent email campaigns. This is an ideal place to begin if you plan on finding yourself in a similar situation soon.

Using Onboarding Techniques To Improve Web Engagement

And be sure to stop by lookingglasstheatre.org and check out the site firsthand; if you live in the area or plan on visiting soon, go see Moby Dick. It’s one of those shows that you’ll regret later if you miss it.

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There’s a fantastic post by Joe Patti in the 7/24/17 edition of Butts In The Seats that examines a decision by Harvard University to suspend graduate admissions for their theatre program after multiple years of unacceptable debt-to-earning potential for graduates.

Patti’s article is a riff on a Chicago Tribune article by chief theater critic and arts reporter Chris Jones.

Although both gentlemen work mostly in the theatre world, their thought provoking topic, and it’s host of complications, can be applied to the orchestra field just as easily.

Tribune reporter Chris Jones goes on to suggest that arts training programs should be held to similar standards as trade schools rather than claiming an exception,

“…based on the mostly spurious argument that students are pursuing their creative dreams, know the cruel realities of the profession and thus have some awareness of the financial risks and the inequality of its rewards — some people, obviously, make a whole lot.

In many cases, these students are going into debt to acquire credentials and, yet more importantly, a network to aid them in a profession that, to its detriment, is growing ever-more nepotistic and lazily elitist, especially when it comes to its dominance by a few well-known training programs.”

That last sentence about the industry being partially to blame for using the imprimatur of a brand name as a shortcut for hiring decisions evokes the recent conversations about arts careers only being accessible to people with the means to take on debt and support themselves during unpaid internships.

Adaptistration People 150On the artistic side of this topic, it isn’t difficult to see similarities between what both authors describe in the theater world and the way music conservatories have intersected with orchestras and operas for more than a century.

Granted, there’s more than a bit of irony surrounding this topic in the form of very low placement rates for graduates, but even then, those from “well-known training programs” tend to fare better than those who don’t.

But what’s particularly interesting is how much this phenomenon has grown for those seeking positions in administration.

With the cost of arts admin graduate programs leveling out at comparable levels to music conservatory graduate programs, both stakeholders have far more in common than not.

It’s a slippery topic that thumbs its nose at neat and clean talking points. Having said that, I do find myself connecting to the point Patti and Jones make in their respective articles.

I’m curious to know what you think, take a moment to read both articles and weigh-in with your thoughts.

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