Community responds with new donations for symphony

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:40 am

Since the announcement earlier this month that the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra needs $5 million in additional funding soon to avoid folding altogether, the community has responded with more than $1 million in new donations, according to MSO president and executive director Mark Niehaus.

 

Speaking at a Milwaukee Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon at the Newsroom Pub in downtown Milwaukee last week, Niehaus discussed his gratitude for how the community is responding.

Ultimately, the MSO will need a new, permanent venue and a large endowment to ensure long-term sustainability, Niehaus said.

Niehaus said the $1 million in new donations included a one-time $250,000 grant from the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) designed to help attract new private donors.

The community would “experience a profound loss” if the MSO ceased performing, UPAF said in a statement.

Near the end of the Newsmaker Luncheon, Niehaus said he had received a text a few minutes earlier to inform him of another significant corporate pledge, but he said he was not yet authorized to disclose the identity of that donor.

Due to ongoing financial struggles, the organization recently announced a restructuring plan that included trimming its orchestra and administrative staffs, renegotiating employee benefits packages, and securing more performance slots at its home at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts through a noncontiguous schedule.

Thanks to adjustments in staff salaries and benefits and the organization’s operations and performance schedule, the MSO has a projected cost savings of $2 million for the coming season.

Niehaus said he is confident that the community will find a way to keep its signature symphony in business.

“I can’t imagine that this town is going to let this thing go down,” Niehaus said.

According to the MSO’s website, corporate donors to the organization include A.O. Smith Corp., Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp., Assurant Health, BMO Harris Bank, Baird Private Asset Management, Briggs & Stratton Corp., Chase Bank, Hal Leonard Corp., Johnson Controls Foundation, the M&I Foundation, Marcus Hotels & Resorts, Michael Best & Friedrich, MillerCoors, Potawatomi Bingo Casino’s Miracle on Canal Street, Rockwell Automation Inc., Sensient Technologies Inc., Target, The Capital Grille, The Marcus Corp., Travel Wisconsin, U.S. Bancorp Foundation, UPAF, Wells Fargo and Z2 Marketing.

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