2020 Orchestra Compensation Reports: The Big Picture

Each year, one of the most popular items in the orchestra compensation reports is a big picture overview of all compensation alongside Total Expenditure figures. If you’ve been looking for something that shows all the report values in a single chart, this is your article.

ENSEMBLETotal ExpendituresExecutive CompensationMusic Director CompensationConcertmaster Compensation
Alabama Symphony$6,350,932NA$186,648$139,444
Atlanta Symphony*NA$369,922$795,304$244,154
Austin Symphony$5,575,523$164,790$171,188NA
Baltimore Symphony$28,527,620$260,569$926,562$311,108
Boston Symphony$105,633,470$1,050,596$1,199,866$497,444
Buffalo Philharmonic$12,497,869$259,311$355,030NA
Charlotte Symphony$9,930,801$125,500$206,250NA
Chattanooga Symphony$2,580,262$90,306NANA
Chicago Symphony$81,339,432$537,541$3,527,730$565,670
Cincinnati Symphony$31,518,334NA$589,474$308,346
Cleveland Orchestra$57,048,912$578,617$1,698,759$634,277
Colorado Springs Philharmonic$3,805,531$166,639$113,300NA
Colorado Symphony$13,415,989NANA$117,995
Columbus Symphony$8,532,011NA$234,000NA
Dallas Symphony$34,675,594NA$1,894,129$302,568
Dayton Philharmonic*NA$133,094$168,543NA
Detroit Symphony$35,606,065$467,857NA$226,329
Florida Orchestra$11,478,204$217,197$304,000NA
Fort Wayne Philharmonic$5,761,638$188,453Not ReportedNA
Fort Worth Symphony$12,844,949NA$344,301$136,928
Grand Rapids Symphony$11,454,679$100,256NANA
Hartford Symphony$5,358,750$120,969$163,402NA
Houston Symphony$34,104,664NA$535,786NA
Indianapolis Symphony$27,076,095NA$533,880NA
Jacksonville Symphony$13,394,954$179,518$174,566NA
Kalamazoo Symphony$3,779,867$164,598NANA
Kansas City Symphony$17,779,306$296,188$511,423$213,236
Knoxville Symphony$4,145,680$142,919NANA
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra$5,323,523$196,714$142,425NA
Los Angeles Philharmonic$159,075,164NA$2,130,895$547,061
Louisville Orchestra$7,239,455$171,845$188,527NA
Memphis Symphony$4,212,264$177,000NANA
Milwaukee Symphony$17,886,038$292,029$302,588$151,709
Minnesota Orchestra$39,513,664$383,681$925,112$265,908
Nashville Symphony$26,456,868$383,295$533,473$213,841
National Symphony*NANANA$422,543
New Jersey Symphony$13,356,769$211,190NA$190,910
New York Philharmonic$77,597,850NA$1,660,299$687,955
North Carolina Symphony$14,965,988$355,518$252,900NA
Omaha Symphony$8,538,677$199,134$182,870NA
Oregon Symphony$19,702,964$275,189$394,673$176,677
Orlando Philharmonic$4,891,729NANANA
Pasadena Symphony$4,223,001$150,000NANA
Pacific Symphony$23,207,256$322,198$449,913NA
Philadelphia Orchestra$52,489,362$770,708$1,380,667$452,543
Phoenix Symphony$13,126,785$376,075$267,000NA
Pittsburgh Symphony$36,790,837$431,015$789,808NA
Portland (ME) Symphony$3,791,049$111,337$154,717NA
Richmond Symphony$6,249,005$140,763$124,597$108,081
Rochester Philharmonic$11,687,613NA$237,572NA
Saint Louis Symphony$30,176,798$427,176$1,020,638$298,453
San Antonio Symphony$5,253,076$109,555$337,710$238,349
San Diego Symphony$27,760,262$373,335NA$213,237
San Francisco Symphony$77,921,165NA$2,203,185$594,522
Santa Rosa Symphony$4,353,463$216,768NANA
Sarasota Orchestra$10,046,009$197,681$149,510NA
Seattle Symphony$31,509,824$484,982$561,930NA
Spokane Symphony$5,093,980$144,284$150,877NA
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra$10,727,228$288,979$263,138$224,740
Symphony Silicon Valley$4,251,893$142,000NANA
Toledo Symphony$6,362,845$190,976$153,000NA
Tucson Symphony$5,201,460$108,193NANA
Utah Symphony$23,328,532$407,519$479,655$234,867
Virginia Symphony$6,569,367$166,913$159,000NA
West Virginia Symphony$2,930,979$133,544NANA
Average$22,132,390$273,616$645,132$304,534

Did you know? Direct links to most of the orchestra’s financial disclosure documents at guidestar.org are available in the Orchestra Financial Reports or you can save yourself dozens of hours by picking them up by season at the Adaptistration Store.

19 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, which are usually reserved for consulting work, and extracting information to share.

To that end, let’s take a look at how each stakeholder group has fared over the years.

The Deliberation Continues

When the compensation reports were launched back in 2005, there was a great deal of reader discussion about each stakeholder group’s respective value. Those were paired with questions about why stakeholder groups didn’t share comparatively equal gains and losses across seasons.

It would be a disservice not to point out that this year’s compensation reports are coming out amid the COVID-19 pandemic when all but a handful of orchestras have been shuttered for months and some have cancelled part or all of next year’s season.

Since its inception, the purpose of the Orchestra Compensation Reports is to help reinforce the value of transparency and inspire patrons to create a stronger connection with their local orchestra and how it functions.

To that end, it has been wonderful watching discussions across social media and other media outlets unfold, doubly so during this enormously challenging time.

Yes, there’s always going to be an element of salaciousness but that quickly melts away into more meaningful discussions surrounding the systems used to determine whether the field is rewarding effort or achievement.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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