The San Francisco Symphony

By William F. Meehan, Katharina Schmitt, Anne Lee
2015 | Case No. SM63 | Length 12 pgs.

The San Francisco Symphony is a major U.S. orchestra that took on ancillary activities as part of its mission to bring the best in music to the Bay Area. Despite increasing costs, SFS posted surpluses for 15 consecutive years. However, by the end of 1993 SFS faced a shift in its financial fortunes; forecasts indicated annual budget shortfalls of $25 million in total deficits by the end of the 1999-2000 season. In 1994, SFS had just signed a “superstar” music director to lead SFS into the 21st century whose ambitions for the orchestra were boundless. Students will step into the role of an executive committee member attending a strategy retreat to develop a strategy for SFS that balances its financial needs and its artistic commitments and aspirations. Key issues for a financial plan and supporting operations are: (1) relationships with orchestra musicians and their union contract; (2) buyers’ capacity for accepting continued increased in ticket prices; (3) likelihood of substantial increases in annual contributions; (4) local responses to changes in the orchestra’s community activities; (5) new music director’s expectations for support of his artistic aspirations.

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