CSO posts $4.4 million deficit in Covid-impacted season

Wed Nov 11, 2020 at 3:13 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson


The Chicago Symphony Orchestra posted the second-largest deficit in its history for 2020 due to the effects of the coronavirus.

The orchestra has announced a $4.4 million deficit for the current fiscal year, which the orchestra attributes to 15 weeks of spring concert cancellations due to Covid-19. That figure marks the CSO’s second largest shortfall ever, after the $6.1 million deficit of 2002.

The news was released late Tuesday at the CSO Association’s annual meeting, which was conducted online due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Ticket sales for FY20 (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020) were $12.5 million, down 30% over 2019, which the CSOA attributes to the Covid cancellations. The past two years have seen a striking drop of nearly 50% in ticket sales from 2018-20, a decline exacerbated by the seven-week musicians strike in 2019.

The orchestra didn’t break out subscription renewals this year but a CSO spokesperson said that the 2020 renewal rate was 86%, a three-percent drop from 2019.

Total operating revenue was $62.9 million, down from $69 million in 2019. Operating expenses were $67.3 million, compared with $70.1 million last year.

Helen Zell was reelected as chairman and three new members were added to the CSO board.

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