By Jennifer K. Bauer
The Washington-Idaho Symphony has canceled the first half of its 2020-21 season because of COVID-19 and is asking for donations to get the organization through the pandemic.
The symphony is hoping to reach an average monthly donation goal of $4,500 to balance its budget and make up for the loss of in-person events.
The Washington Idaho Symphony Board of Directors decided that holding in-person concerts in the fall would pose too much of a health risk to both its patrons and musicians.
“It was a hard decision on one hand but, on the other hand, it wasn’t so hard,” said Executive Director Kristin Lincoln.
While audience members could be distanced during a concert, musicians cannot.
“A huge concern for us is protecting our musicians,” Lincoln said. “We have quite a few who are elderly, as well.”
Revenue loss from the three fall and winter concerts, and two concerts canceled last spring, presents “a serious financial hardship” for the organization. This loss isn’t from ticket sales, Lincoln said, but donations.
“If we’re not performing, it’s not in the forefront of people’s minds to donate. Our organization is almost entirely dependent on the kindness of our donors,” she said.
It costs $20,000 to put on a full symphony concert, and ticket sales usually pay for that, Lincoln said. The $4,500 the nonprofit is seeking each month will be used to pay overhead costs: rent, insurance, office expenses and payroll for the executive and music directors and musicians and technicians who will be creating online content for the community during the closure.
The figure is based on the donations the symphony has come to expect in an average year.
“We can weather the loss of ticket sales, but we will not be able to weather a significant loss of donations,” Lincoln said.
If the symphony cannot maintain its budget, it will not be in a position to have concerts when in-person events come back, she said. Fall 2021 will mark the start of the symphony’s 50th anniversary season.
“This is a budget to break even,” she said. “This is not a budget to come out ahead at the end of the year.”
The symphony hopes to return to the stage in the spring. Season ticket holders can request a refund for fall and winter concerts on the symphony’s website or by phone. Tickets for concerts in February, March and April are for sale.
Donations can be made online at www.wa-idsymphony.org.