2016 Orchestra Compensation Reports: The Big Picture

For the past few years, one of the most popular items in the orchestra compensation reports is a big picture overview of all compensation alongside Total Expenditure figures. So if you’ve been looking for something that shows all of the report values in a single chart, this article is exactly what you’ve been looking for.

Alabama Symphony$6,338,926$181,882NA$130,875
Atlanta Symphony*$41,000,000$445,223$602,666NA
Austin Symphony$4,636,394$148,732$160,003NA
Baltimore Symphony$25,469,526$266,307$914,747$297,072
Boston Symphony$88,543,401$852,607NA$478,935
Buffalo Philharmonic$11,699,965$259,207$330,300NA
Charlotte Symphony$9,251,240$203,119$195,939NA
Chattanooga Symphony$2,463,823$92,720NANA
Chicago Symphony$80,482,607$633,619$2,309,837$549,794
Cincinnati Symphony$27,553,039$408,579NA$280,091
Cleveland Orchestra$51,303,220$646,813$977,496$503,573
Colorado Springs Philharmonic$3,089,196$144,801$77,025NA
Colorado Symphony$12,850,189NANA$116,468
Columbus Symphony$7,717,795NA$174,667NA
Dallas Symphony$36,744,016$393,321$5,110,538$265,863
Dayton Philharmonic*$8,170,652$114,400$174,758NA
Detroit Symphony$32,843,238$411,369$800,957$205,652
Florida Orchestra$9,168,574$179,849$205,271NA
Fort Wayne Philharmonic$4,017,743$100,767$120,930$126,263
Fort Worth Symphony$11,529,499$167,088$387,505NA
Grand Rapids Symphony$8,907,628$139,165$206,227NA
Hartford Symphony$5,394,358NA$178,609NA
Houston Symphony$29,399,965$398,842$354,575$214,801
Indianapolis Symphony$24,116,969$260,111$389,340$229,070
Jacksonville Symphony$9,074,131NA$161,946NA
Kalamazoo Symphony$2,604,338NA$132,559NA
Kansas City Symphony$15,153,068$235,148$378,750$172,825
Knoxville Symphony$3,600,217$108,345$130,049NA
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra$3,801,408$135,074$166,550NA
Los Angeles Philharmonic$117,813,629$1,586,820$1,661,493$554,209
Louisville Orchestra$5,445,118$122,400NANA
Memphis Symphony$4,531,125NANANA
Milwaukee Symphony$16,137,727$214,612$437,192$172,937
Minnesota Orchestra$24,499,834$427,421$316,171NA
Nashville Symphony$24,444,914$349,480$427,587$188,069
National Symphony*$36,000,000$294,023$2,274,151$368,467
New Jersey Symphony$12,555,537$113,775$225,750$185,273
New York Philharmonic$73,256,773$626,489$1,751,570$615,924
North Carolina Symphony$13,515,694$219,758$236,583NA
Omaha Symphony$6,606,663$152,595$157,700NA
Oregon Symphony$14,416,370NA$333,895$152,802
Pasadena Symphony$3,550,266$135,000NANA
Pacific Symphony$19,667,303$327,836$423,635$175,746
Philadelphia Orchestra$45,366,875$733,242$519,319$385,817
Phoenix Symphony$10,343,874$197,679NANA
Pittsburgh Symphony$34,776,651$249,305$661,695$316,961
Portland (ME) Symphony$3,185,125$98,519$138,690NA
Richmond Symphony$4,646,831$116,305$108,672NA
Rochester Philharmonic$9,787,619$165,569NANA
Saint Louis Symphony$27,927,796$443,541$1,043,313$271,933
San Antonio Symphony$6,980,900NA$240,349NA
San Diego Symphony$26,027,506$389,222$498,431$202,470
San Francisco Symphony$74,566,128$557,312$2,105,920$563,745
Santa Rosa Symphony$3,707,046$176,192$109,500NA
Sarasota Orchestra$8,044,277$180,744NANA
Seattle Symphony$25,006,504$297,780$463,801$134,083
Spokane Symphony$3,984,609$120,893Not ReportedNA
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra$10,352,752$140,547NA$126,873
Symphony Silicon Valley$3,160,084$133,080NANA
Toledo Symphony$5,363,293$127,905$174,450NA
Tucson Symphony$4,671,203$121,289$126,066NA
Utah Symphony$20,312,911$309,745$515,875$180,506
Virginia Symphony$6,121,102$167,497$153,000NA
West Virginia Symphony$3,117,990NA$160,800NA
Average$20,106,518$294,976$598,137 $281,624

* due to their relationship within a larger performing arts structure, Total Expenditure figures for National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and Dayton Philharmonic are estimates.

Did you know? Direct links to most of the orchestra’s financial disclosure documents at guidestar.org are available in the Orchestra Financial Reports.

15 Year Trends

Although the Orchestra Compensation Reports have been around since 2005 (which covered the 2003/04 season) my 990 archive extends back through the 1999/00 season. Consequently, this overview article is an excellent vehicle for reaching back into those archives usually reserved for consulting work and extracting information to share.

To that end, I’m happy to say that this year’s installment will include a new dynamic charting tool that will make it easier to not only provide charts and graphs for changes in average compensation per stakeholder, but overlay them into a single chart. All of this makes it much easier to visualize the bigger picture.

Average Executive Compensation From 1999/00 Season Through 2013/14 Season

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Average Music Director Compensation From 1999/00 Season Through 2013/14 Season

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Average Concertmaster Compensation From 1999/00 Season Through 2013/14 Season

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Combined Average Stakeholder Compensation From 1999/00 Season Through 2013/14 Season

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The Deliberation Continues

Orchestra Compensation Reports 2016 The Big PictureWhen the compensation reports were launched back in 2005, there was a great deal of reader discussion about the value of each stakeholder group along with questions about why they didn’t share comparatively equal gains and losses from one season to the next. In the wake of the economic downturn, those discussions began to wane but a few key areas have once again sparked that core discussion.

For example, the supposedly shared sacrifice of Philadelphia Orchestra’s CEO during their bankruptcy was quickly followed by a complete restoration and a host of bonuses and perks (details). And this year’s revelation of a $3,321,541 signing bonus for Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s music director during the 2013/14 season when the musicians experienced a pay freeze from the 2012/13 season ($84,054 base musician annual salary), potentially introduces a long standing contentious dynamic to labor relations.

It will be fascinating to see whether or not there are any changes in how boards initially set and evaluate compensation for executive and music director stakeholders. Based on the patterns from the past few available seasons, there doesn’t appear to be much inclination to control those expenditures. For music directors in particular, the rate of increase in average compensation actually increased over the previous decade after a single year drop in the 2008/09 season.

The purpose of the Orchestra Compensation Reports is to help demonstrate the value of transparency and inspire patrons to become increasingly interested in how their respective orchestra functions.

To that end, it has been wonderful watching discussions across social media and other media outlets unfold. Yes, there’s always going to be an element of salaciousness but by and large, that quickly melts away into more meaningful discussions surrounding the systems used to determine whether the field is rewarding effort or achievement.

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