The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Board of Directors voted yesterday to suspend all concerts until Jan. 30, 2021, and to implement resource-saving measures, including musician furloughs and reduction of five full and part-time staff positions, effective Sept. 1. In addition to cost savings achieved through a reduction in administrative staff by 25%, the Music Director and Managing Director have voluntarily offered to donate back a portion of their salaries to reduce expenses.
The announcement comes as a response to the global pandemic and the operational disruptions reverberating throughout orchestras and other cultural institutions around the country. Since mid-March the pandemic forced the Philharmonic to cancel or reschedule dozens of concerts and events, including most summer concerts. At that time, the Philharmonic Board of Directors made the decision to continue to pay full-time and per service musicians through the end of the Season, then extended pay through the Summer Season.
With safety as a priority, the Board is taking the necessary steps to ensure that musicians and audiences can return to the concert hall as soon as possible. This will require a delayed and compressed 2020-2021 Season. Suspending concert activity at least through most of January is necessary for the institution to keep its musicians and audiences safe and finances sound to ensure the Philharmonic’s long-term sustainability and success.
“We realize this will have a dramatic impact on the musicians and administrative staff of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic,” said Managing Director James W. Palermo. “To protect the institution’s future, we must take steps to evaluate all contractual relationships, eliminate staff positions, and reduce the annual operating budget. The Philharmonic will pause now so it can continue on in the future. We will regroup and return stronger, more relevant, and even more artistically thrilling.”
“We have already begun discussions with our musicians: the artists with whom Andrew Constantine has built the Philharmonic into an esteemed ensemble, which is the envy of most regions this size. Our hope is to help musicians navigate this uncertain period, including continuing to pay their health insurance until we are able to perform again,” Palermo said.
The Fort Wayne Philharmonic was about to enter its 77th Season of service to the community and region. While patrons likely will be disappointed with a pause to the Season, the action will protect everyone in the short term and allow the Philharmonic to come back strong with the
exciting and diverse programming Northeast Indiana audiences have come to expect from its hometown orchestra.
The Philharmonic is working on a schedule of concerts that begins on Jan. 30, 2021 and runs through May. Box Office staff will contact patrons by the end of August with options for the spring season. Streamlined programming and other measures precipitated by the pandemic are being considered as the orchestra works to serve the long-term needs of its patron base. The Philharmonic is committed to working through this period as positively as possible and emerging with the same high artistic standards audiences have come to expect from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.
During this pause in concert activity, the Philharmonic will invite patrons and community members to help plan the future. In the coming weeks, an important survey will be sent to all constituents. Responses will ensure that the institution looks to the future and does its utmost to serve everyone in Northeast Indiana. In addition, focus groups will be convened in September, allowing a wide variety of people to share their thoughts about the future of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.
“The events of the last six months have upended the lives of so many of our citizens,” said Board Chairman Chuck Surack. “Through these challenges, we know that what binds us together is our common love of music and belief that it can change lives. We’ve experienced hard times before, and will get through this period with an unwavering belief in our role as stewards of this great organization. We look forward to returning to the stage and seeing everyone very soon. In the meantime, we send our regards and best wishes for continued health and prosperity.”
The Fort Wayne Philharmonic’s mission is to inspire and foster a lifelong love of symphonic music through performance and education. Music Director Andrew Constantine leads the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. All programming is made possible by the support of community individuals, businesses, corporations and foundations. The Fort Wayne Philharmonic is graciously supported by the following partners: Purdue University. Fort Wayne, The National Endowment for the Arts, Indiana Arts Commission, Arts Campus Fort Wayne and Arts United. For additional information, call 260.481.0777 or visit fwphil.org.