We have worked hard during this time to earn the community's trust that we will manage responsibly, make tough decisions when necessary, cooperate among ourselves, and lead by example. We have accomplished much, but critical work remains. We need additional support to move forward, and the stakes could not be higher.
Our negotiations and settlements enabled us to reduce our costs and liabilities significantly. Still, our working capital and the core sources of recurring income upon which we and every orchestra depend - ticket revenue, contributed annual support, and endowment income - are significantly less than necessary to sustain us.
Bankruptcy did not and could not cure this problem. The recession has undoubtedly aggravated the shortfall, but it explains only a portion of it. In the 20 years before the recession hit, we lost a significant share of our audience. While the other five largest orchestras, as a group, suffered no loss of audience for their subscription concerts, ours shrank by 35 percent. By 2011, our cumulative loss had reached 40 percent.
It is this trend that we must reverse - and we are. This year, despite the clouds of bankruptcy and a still-poor economy, our audience has grown by about 10 percent, including our Stokowski Festival at the Academy of Music. We also attracted many new donors, and Allison Vulgamore, our CEO, has recruited an outstanding leadership team. Now, free from the demands of managing our reorganization, they can devote their energy to navigating this new path.
Our future starts with our audience. Philadelphia can support a world-class orchestra. We have always been a smaller city than some others that support great orchestras. Nonetheless, in the days of Leopold Stokowski, Eugene Ormandy, and Riccardo Muti, the orchestra attracted the largest audience per performance of any in America. Our seasons were sold out and there was a waiting list for subscriptions.
The entire organization is dedicated to the purpose of rebuilding that audience. Already, our programs and performances attract, excite, and inspire. Our marketing will be energetic and effective. We will pursue electronic-media opportunities, continue to play an important role in music education in our city, provide better customer service, and develop closer relationships with our audience and patrons. But success will take time, effort, and money.
We start with an irreplaceable asset, the orchestra itself, a cultural treasure that is truly one of the best in the world. It plays to full houses and rave reviews wherever it travels. Add to that the arrival of Nézet-Séguin. He is an extraordinarily talented musician who is dynamic, engaging, and fun. Our musicians have responded to him with great joy and energy. Happily, our audience, too, is responding with enthusiasm and excitement.
Yet the question remains: Will our community provide the additional support necessary to sustain us as we work to build our revenue? I believe it will, but the outcome is still uncertain.
Great cities have long taken pride in supporting their orchestras and the musicians who dedicate their lives to the music. That we could lose ours is simply unthinkable. No, we cannot allow that to happen. We must ask every public-spirited Philadelphian who values the orchestra's contribution to culture and education in our city to rally around us. We ask with a profound sense of its worth, and with strong conviction that preserving and revitalizing it is absolutely the best thing for Philadelphia.
Please, come, hear, see, and experience the joy yourself.
To learn more, visit www.philorch.org.