MUSICIANS OF MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA ANNOUNCE GIFT OF $250,000 TO MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA; Gift establishes musician-led fund supporting education and community programming; Musicians dissolve independent 501c3 organization; News shared at Minnesota Orchestra Annual Meeting at which Orchestra shares balanced operating result

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Gift establishes musician-led fund supporting education
and community programming

Musicians dissolve independent 501c3 organization

News shared at Minnesota Orchestra Annual Meeting at which Orchestra
shares balanced operating result

At the Minnesota Orchestra’s Annual Meeting today, musicians announced the contribution of a $250,000 gift to the Minnesota Orchestra and the dissolution of their independent 501c3 charitable organization. The gift—which represents income earned by Minnesota Orchestra Musicians (MOM) from self-produced concerts during the Orchestra’s 16-month lockout as well as through private donations—will be used to establish a musician-led “Bellwether Fund” to support education and community programming. The gift was made in memory of Orchestra friend and advocate Lee Henderson.

Orchestra Board Chair Warren Mack, partner at Fredrikson & Byron, also announced at the Annual Meeting that the Orchestra had achieved an operating surplus of $15,000 on a budget of $31.1 million for Fiscal 2015. Contributions for the year totaled $18.1 million from more than 7,000 donors; earned revenue totaled $8.5 million and board designated draws for operations, which were based on a 5 percent draw for operations across all endowments and trusts, totaled $4.5 million. Total investments ended the year at $141 million. The Orchestra preliminarily announced a balanced operating result in September, following the close of its fiscal year.

“The 2014-15 season was a year of coming together for the Minnesota Orchestra and this is exemplified by the musicians’ announcement today,” said Warren Mack. “Their gift is generous on many levels—perhaps most importantly, it is emblematic of the spirit of cooperation that we all want to see prevail in the organization, and it reflects the valuable leadership role musicians now play in the Minnesota Orchestra.”

The Bellwether Fund

The Bellwether Fund will help underwrite education and community programming that is aligned with the mission of the musicians’ former 501c3 “to inspire an ever-widening audience to seek a lifelong relationship with great symphonic music” and to use engaging programs to “increase access and deepen connections among musicians, the community and the Minnesota Orchestra.” Such programming includes “Symphonic Adventures” concerts in area high schools and “Sensory Friendly” concerts for individuals with disabilities—both programs which were originally developed by musicians and this season will be presented by the Minnesota Orchestra. A committee of musicians will oversee the Bellwether Fund and decide how funds will be allocated, collaborating with management to implement projects.

Acting Associate Principal Bass Kathryn Nettleman, who served as president of the musicians’ 501c3, said, “This gift we make to the Minnesota Orchestra today is a powerful symbol of how, together with the wonderful Orchestra staff and Board of Directors, we are working in a truly collaborative organization. It represents our committed ongoing investment in the mighty Minnesota Orchestra. We are proud of all that the Orchestra has accomplished—collaborating as a unified team, in concert with our greater community—and we know that our Orchestra will continue to shine brightly far into the future.”

“We are really pleased the musicians have made this decision,” said Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Kevin Smith. “It represents a significant step forward for the Orchestra and recognizes that we serve our mission best when we harness the unified strength of the entire organization.”

Said Associate Principal Flute Greg Milliren, who served as secretary of the 501c3, “We made this gift in loving memory of our generous friend and Orchestra patron, Lee Henderson. Lee’s leadership was crucial in helping the Orchestra back to its feet following the lockout. His can-do spirit beautifully represented our community’s wishes, inspiring a new chapter for the Orchestra. His spirit will long inspire and sustain us.”

The musicians formed a 501c3 in February 2013, five months into the lockout (which ran from October 2012 through January 2014), and continued to offer self-produced programming through the summer of 2015. The 501c3 will dissolve immediately following the filing of required 2015 tax documents.

Additional 2014-15 Season Highlights

The Annual Meeting also celebrated institutional milestones of the Orchestra’s 2014-15 season, a year in which Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Orchestra relaunched their Sibelius Symphonies recording cycle with BIS, made a historic tour to Cuba, performed with guest artists from Renée Fleming to Gil Shaham, offered family and Young People’s Concerts for 44,000 and welcomed five new musicians into the Orchestra.  It was also a year with significant administrative announcements: Kevin Smith was appointed President and CEO in November, Warren Mack was named board chair in February, and the Orchestra announced contract extensions for musicians (through 2020) and music director (through 2019) in May.


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