A nine-member city-county task force has released its plan to help the financially troubled San Antonio Symphony work its way toward long-term fiscal stability.
The task force, created by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and Mayor Ron Nirenberg earlier this year, enlisted the help of the DeVos Institute, a consulting group which specializes in aiding arts organizations.
The institute's Michael Kaiser said part of the strategic plan is for the symphony to collaborate with more varied organizations to help grow its audience.
"There were a whole series of specific recommendations,” he said, “everything from a collaboration with the Tobin Center on some popular artists, who would love to have a symphony orchestra back them up.”
Also part of future success, Kaiser added, is introducing the next generation to the symphony through social media and other innovations.
“(Imagine) where the conductor has prerecorded a series of tweets that can get released during the performance so that the audience,” he said, “particularly younger members of the audience can learn about the work as they're hearing about it and start to approach symphonic music on their own terms."
But what’s not part of the proposal is scaling back from a 72-member orchestra or a 30-week performance schedule in order to meet its $7.2 million annual budget.
"A lot of people think it starts with cutting your budgets or saving money — it doesn't,” Kaiser said. “You don't save your way to health and the arts; you excite people; you energize people.”
While symphony management has struggled to raise funds in the past, Kaiser said this shift in focus will go a long way in helping the symphony reach its goals.
"The money's there; the money is in the community,” he said. “... This community is very generous with contributions. If you do a good job of maintaining the level of the excitement after the work and the engagement with the individual."
The task force also recommends hiring a full-time executive director and increasing the marketing budget from 21 to 30 percent of the management budget.
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