Minnesota Orchestra announces $11.7 million deficit for fiscal 2020

Orchestra performing to an empty audience
The Minnesota Orchestra played without an audience at its last full concert before the pandemic interrupted its 2020 season.
Joseph Scheller | Minnesota Orchestra

The Minnesota Orchestra on Thursday announced an almost $12 million deficit for the last fiscal year due to the pandemic. The orchestra had to cancel a third of its concerts and also the Symphony Ball, the organization's largest annual fundraiser.

President and CEO Michelle Miller Burns says that while the $11.7 million deficit is serious, the orchestra has been able to cover the shortfall using available funds.

"We have a variety of liquid assets available to us for this purpose, including our line of credit,” Burns said. “And then also the federal Paycheck Protection Program funding that we received, which was really critical to maintaining positive cash flow in fiscal year 2020."

Burns says philanthropic and moral support from the community has also been vital.

The pandemic forced a move toward digital presentations, and Burns says she expects some of those innovations will remain in the future.

“What I would like to see us do is together create a future that encompasses the very best of the core traditions of this orchestra over the past 117 seasons, and embrace newfound adaptations and ideas,” she said.

Burns says audiences appreciated the socially distanced summer concerts outside Orchestra Hall and the live concerts now being broadcast from the venue. Safety will be the main concern, she says, in considering how and when to invite live audiences back into the hall.

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