Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who's the anonymous symphony lover?

I'm just back from the noon rally at Trade and Tryon for the Charlotte Symphony, which was fun in a too-much-sun, humid sweat kind of way. Especially since I not only got to hear some professional musicians play, but I got to hear former Gov. Jim Martin play the tuba. Who can't love that?

For the record, he played "Asleep in the Deep" on an instrument he said he borrowed from the Salvation Army. It did indeed have a beat up, well-used look to it. I missed his performance before the official rally started, but he was nice enough to play when I asked him, afterward.

The snoopy journalist in me, of course, required that I ask around about to try to get some clues to the identity of the anonymous donor who just gave the symphony a $500,000 challenge grant. The symphony has until Dec. 31 to raise its matching money, although I was told the challenge grant will be given out in increments, as the matching money is raised.

Meg Whalen, the symphony's public relations director, told me no one at the symphony knows the donor's identity except the CSO executive director, Jonathan Martin, and board chair Pat Rodgers. But, Whalen said, the donor intends to remain anonymous forever. So we're left to speculate about local philanthropists. Leon and Sandra Levine might be atop the list, except they apparently have been busy wiring up a $1 million challenge grant to the United Way of Central Carolinas, announced this morning. And they've already been generous to the symphony, with a $25,000 grant in May.


The symphony has to give its financial turnaround plan to the Arts & Science Council on Sept. 2. If the ASC doesn't like the plan, the symphony gets only a $150,000 in ASC funding, down from $1.9 million last year. If the ASC approves, the symphony gets $900,000.

I'm obviously cheering the symphony on. I'd hate to see Charlotte become one of the largest cities in America without a symphony. Here's a column I wrote on that topic a couple of weeks ago.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

if the symphony can't support itself, adios.

i hate to say it, but we're in a tight spot right now, can't have it all

Anonymous said...

Look forward to being a first time donor. Nice opportunity to get more bang for the buck.

dr. j said...

There are several good arguments as to why Charlotte does not need a professional symphony orchestra. I've made them here:

http://its-her-factory.blogspot.com/2009/08/does-mid-sized-city-like-charlotte-even.html

Matt said...

I heard anonymous is actually Ted Danson...

Anonymous said...

I was glad to see CSO be a little more aggresive in collecting the suggested $5 per person admission to the Summer Pops series at SouthPark. But considering they were (and are) deep in the hole financially, there is no reason they couldn't have worked out a more formal ticketing or collection mechanism and charged two or three times that amount for each of the five SouthPark concerts.

At $10 per head, and with crowds of 10,000 or more not unusual there, they could have collected $500,000 for the whole series.

I understand they have other concert series during the summer at other parks and locations. Maybe another 6-10 gigs? I don't think they charged for those, and I'd like to know why, when they need to raise money.

Did they pass a hat today, Mary? If CSO wants my contribution, it must first show me it is capable of carrying out a sound financial plan, such as (DUH) charging for performances.

Anonymous said...

I heard the anonymous was Gloria Pace King.

Mary Newsom said...

To reply to the question above, I arrived late at the rally so I don't know if they passed the hat. They had plenty of big white buckets at a table and were not shy about asking for donations.

Anonymous said...

I heard the anonymous was Velma Leak.

consultant said...

Okay, okay. It's me.

But that's it!

Anonymous said...

I heard the anonymous is Unknown Hinson.

Jumper said...

I'm happy Unknown has a good steady gig now, but I bet it was Hugh McColl.

john smith / john smyth said...

i hate to say it, but we're in a tight spot right now, can't have it all