The Music Plays On

Fort Worth Symphony starts 2018 on fundraising high notes

Fort Worth Symphony starts 2018 on fundraising high notes

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra
The Fort Worth Symphony set an ambitious fundraising goal in 2017. Photo by Julian Lambert

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, faced with financial instability in recent years, has started 2018 on more solid footing. The orchestra announced on January 2 that its ambitious "Play Your Part: 3 Steps to $3 Million" fundraising campaign has exceeded its goal. 

Through the campaign, announced in February 2017, the Amon Carter Foundation pledged to match up to $500,000 per year in new and increased contributions, resulting in a potential $3 million of additional revenue over the course of the three-year campaign. 

A total of 1,160 donors have made three-year pledges totaling $870,000 annually, FWSO announced. Eligible funds for the match have exceeded the $500,000 goal by more than $20,000 and, the symphony said, combined with the match, total $3,060,000 in increased giving through 2019.

The challenge, FWSO says, has encouraged increased giving from new, reinstated, and current donors.

"It is our hope these initial three-year pledges will continue well past the challenge period and help the symphony permanently broaden and deepen its patron support and attendance base," says John G. Robinson, executive vice president-grant administration of the Amon G. Carter Foundation, in a news release.

In an email sent to patrons January 2 signed by FWSO board chairwoman Mercedes T. Bass, she says, "My sincere thanks to each of you who played your part in supporting this important effort — you have demonstrated your unwavering support to the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Our beloved orchestra is on its way to building a firm financial foundation for the future."

The orchestra's immediate future includes a trip to Washington, D.C. to play in the prestigious SHIFT Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, April 9-15.

FWSO has faced well-publicized financial troubles in the last several years. The musicians went on strike for three months in fall 2016. Symphony management, citing a decline in corporate, government, and individual giving, described the financial condition as "precarious" at the time. The strike ended when an anonymous donor stepped forward with a gift that could provide stability for several years while management made plans to increase revenue and expand their endowment fund.

The orchestra currently is without a president and CEO. Amy Adkins stepped down from the position in July to become president of the All Saints Health Foundation. Veteran arts administrator David Hyslop was named interim president in late July, and according to a news release at the time, was to remain as interim president until a permanent president was appointed. However, he left Fort Worth in September, according to his LinkedIn profile, and in October, began a post as senior advisor to the Houston Symphony Orchestra Executive Committee.

A spokeswoman for FWSO tells CultureMap, "The Board of Directors is currently overseeing the search for the FWSO’s new President and CEO. We are optimistic about this process and looking forward to a new chapter for the organization in the coming year."