The Nashville Symphony is nearly done digging itself out of a giant financial hole. After job cuts, salary reductions and restructuring, the symphony expects to no longer have a budget deficit, starting next year.
The symphony’s money problems began when the stock market crashed in 2008. And then came the 2010 flood, which filled the Schermerhorn’s basement with river water and resulted in a $40 million repair bill. The symphony nearly lost its home in
a bank auction in the middle of 2013.
There have been some lean years to get to this point, including
15 percent pay reductions for management and musicians. But the
2015 audit, released Thursday, finds the organization was in the red by less than a million dollars last year. CEO Alan Valentine says he’s encouraged that it’s not just the cost-cutting that’s led to the turnaround.
“The best news of all is that the biggest part of that improvement came from ticket sales and fundraising, which is a great sign because ultimately that’s what’s going to provide the stability long term for the institution,” he says.
The symphony still has nearly $22 million of debt on its books, but it did pay down the principle by $650,000 in the most recent fiscal year.
Valentine says the symphony is trying to be as open as possible about its finances.
“We went through such a public, difficult period,” he says. “In the long term, we need to rebuild the community’s confidence in the institution.”