Financial Trouble for Utah Symphony and Opera?

Financial Trouble for Utah Symphony and Opera?

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Carole Mikita ReportingMusicians with the Utah Symphony and Opera claim their organization is in a financial crisis. Management disagrees, calling it just a challenge.

The merger of the Utah Symphony and the Utah Opera Company officially happened in 2002. Since then donations are down considerably, ticket sales are off, and an outside consultant was hired to help.

Making beautiful music on stage while struggling behind-the-scenes to stay afloat, that's not a new scenario for the Utah Symphony. But now those players are raising the red flag, concerned that the merger with the opera, which was supposed to bring financial stability to both, could signal the end.

Christine Osbourne, Musician Utah Symphony & Opera: "We see no changes on the horizon and we are concerned that the orchestra is on the brink of financial ruin..."

CEO Anne Ewers calls the situation a serious challenge.

Anne Ewers, CEO Utah Symphony & Opera: "The word crisis, I think, sends off alarms and fears and panics, and that's not what we should be about.”

Financial data states donations fell from $2.8 million in 2002 to a projected $700,000 this year. Tickets sales also fell for two years, then are projected to be back up some in 2005. But the players say the deficit numbers from three years add up to 4.2 million. Management says it has erased 2003's deficit and this year's will be nearly half that much, bringing the total to about 2.1 million.

Anne Ewers: "To go from 1.6 in the previous year to 500,000 in the next and then to a flat budget, which is what is projected for the following year..."

Both jointly paid for an outside consultant, but the content of the report has not been disclosed to the board of directors; the decision makers and musicians are curious about what it calls for.

Joe Hatch, Musicians' Attorney: “There has to be a change and a change quick, so that the organization can move on.”

The Utah Symphony and Opera Board of Directors meets tomorrow afternoon. From what we can gather, that report suggests the board members and manager focus on finding donors and increasing ticket sales.

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