As is the case with every annual orchestra compensation report, the most important element to keep in mind is these figures encompass the 2015/16 season and not the current season. Although it isn’t unusual to expect that the most recent figures available would cover the previous season, that’s not how things work thanks to these reasons:
- Most professional orchestras maintain a fiscal year structure that begins and ends at some point from June to August; as a result, they tend to file their annual return several months later than the typical April 15 deadline.
- When you add that date against the length of time the IRS takes to process and release the returns (anywhere from six to nine months), you arrive at the reason why the report covers a season later than expected.
The result is the most recent season available with data for every potential orchestra in these reports is two seasons behind the current season.
Although we’ll be examining each of the items below in greater detail via their respective article, here are some highlights you can look forward to:
- The average music director compensation enjoyed the largest percent increase since the reports began in 2005.
- The average executive compensation figures were skewed low this season due to several of the higher paying positions being filled for a partial season or occupied by interim CEO. Nonetheless, average compensation still increased.
- The average concertmaster compensation finally reversed three consecutive seasons of negative growth.
- The cumulative total expenditures for every orchestra in the reports came to just over $1.3 billion dollars.
- For the second time in the report’s history, the highest paid music director was from an orchestra outside of the “Big Eight.”
More Of A Good Thing: Watching The Transparency Process Unfold Firsthand
Typically, whenever an organization’s 990 is missing compensation figures for one or more stakeholder and the reason isn’t something easily verified, I reach out to inquire. In most cases, the organization promptly responds, confirms the oversight, and provides the information along with any corresponding clarification.
Last year’s reports tried something new: each article was published with notes indicating any unreported figures and the respective organization was contacted for the missing information afterward.
The goal was to provide a more realistic sense of how often information is missing and confirm an organization’s commitment to the spirit of compensation transparency. It turned out to be an enormously effective approach so you expect more of the same this season.
Once each group is able to respond to requests for information and provide the missing figures, the respective articles will be updated accordingly.
- Tuesday, 6/12/2017: Executives
- Wednesday, 6/13/2017: Music Directors
- Thursday, 6/14/2017: Concertmasters
- Friday, 6/15/2017: Overview and multi-year averages
Curious About Figures From Previous Seasons?
Then visit the Orchestra Compensation Reports archive where you’ll find links to each article in the series dating back to 2005. Articles from this year’s installment will be added as they are published.