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.

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