While the pandemic has done a lot of financial damage to the arts landscape, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has weathered the bulk of it better than many.
At its annual meeting Tuesday, the SPCO said that it completed fiscal year 2022 on June 30 with an operating surplus of $163,393 on revenues of nearly $9.7 million and expenses of a little over $9.5 million. It's the orchestra's 27th surplus in the past 29 years.
Of those revenues, nearly $6.7 million came via contributions, with that total including $1.2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program. At the end of fiscal year 2022, the orchestra's donor base included 4,949 unique households.
In addition, the SPCO reported close to $1.2 million in earned income (mostly ticket sales) while nearly $1.9 million was drawn from the earnings of its endowment. The endowment now stands at $46.2 million, down about $2.6 million from a year ago, but $7.3 million ahead of the 2020 total. The orchestra also maintains a "rainy day fund" to protect against future shortfalls, and that rose to $4.3 million.
At the annual meeting, Jon Limbacher, the SPCO's president and managing director, addressed how the orchestra has been able to remain in strong financial standing when concerts were canceled for the entire 2020-21 season.
"The community provided almost $25 million over the course of the pandemic," he said. "We know that we have to continue to earn that support."
The SPCO is gradually rebuilding its concert seasons to pre-pandemic levels. During fiscal year 2022, a total of 35,559 patrons attended the orchestra's 92 concerts, which were capped at 50% of capacity for social distancing purposes. By comparison, in pre-pandemic fiscal year 2019, 108,696 people attended 147 SPCO concerts.
The popularity of the orchestra's online Concert Library of recorded performances grew greatly during the pandemic, peaking at 351,365 visits during fiscal year 2021. When audiences were welcomed into concert venues again in fiscal year 2022, that number fell to 145,275 visits.
"It likely will take several years to recover from the pandemic," said Beth Toso, the SPCO's chief financial officer.
"We're entering a very challenging period, and we're embracing that," Limbacher said. "We'll get through it."
Rob Hubbard is a Twin Cities classical music writer. Reach him at email@example.com.