PSO balances budget; fundraising up

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The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra ended its 2007-08 fiscal year in the black for a second consecutive season but did not meet the criteria for a major gift, it reported ahead of its annual meeting yesterday.

"We are going to have an audited balanced budget but not one that meets the covenant of the Richard P. Simmons family gift for the first year," said PSO president Larry Tamburri. In 2005, Simmons gave the orchestra $7.5 million of that $29.5 million gift, spread out over five years. "One of the covenants is not to use more than $500,000 of it toward a balanced budget," he said. "We went over that, but only by less than one half of one percent of our budget" of about $30 million.

That means that last season did not qualify to begin the process of unlocking the $17 million legacy part of Simmons' gift, which requires a balanced budget for three consecutive years. The orchestra has until 2015-16 to do so.

Annual fundraising played a large role, pulling in more than $7 million and exceeding the previous year by $900,000, Tamburri said.

Richard Simmons, chairman of the PSO board, said expenses were held in check for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31. "It demonstrates that we are fiscally responsible and that we intend to maintain a world-class orchestra," he said.

Simmons also noted that the PSO recently negotiated a "fiscally responsible" three-year contract with its musicians.

Tamburri said that subscriptions were up slightly for a fourth year in a row, and the Pittsburgh Symphony has raised nearly $50 million toward an $80 million goal in its ongoing capital campaign.

"The campaign has been going well," Tamburri said, "but we are in unusual economic times. As things stabilize we will see what the next step is."

CLARIFICATION (Published Oct. 17, 2008): This story published originally published Oct. 17, 2008 on the Pittsburgh Symphony ending its 2007-08 fiscal year with a balanced budget said the group also did not meet the criteria for a major gift. It has been updated to make clear that the criteria were not met just for this year, and that the orchestra expects to meet the requirements in the future.

Classical music critic Andrew Druckenbrod can be reached at .


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