Five Years After the Launch of Building Our Business, Continued Progress

(ST. LOUIS) Today, the St. Louis Symphony released its Fiscal Year 2013 results.   The FY13 numbers, reflecting continued progress, show increased operating revenues and endowment totals and a dropping deficit.  FY13 marks five years since the Symphony launched its strategic Building Our Business initiative, which has brought sustained audience growth and ticket sales to the organization, along with significant increases in annual contributed revenues. 

“The St. Louis Symphony has come a long way in the last 12 years, from a heroic effort to save the orchestra with a major endowment push in the early part of the decade, to the launch of a new strategic plan in 2008.  Now, even with the growth of our endowment and strong results in increased earned and contributed revenues in recent years, as well as strong expense management, we continue to focus on building operating revenues with a renewed effort to build endowment,” said St. Louis Symphony President/CEO Fred Bronstein. “This will ensure a sustainable operating structure and secure the greatness of the St. Louis Symphony and its education and community efforts for the future.”

Overall Financial Results for FY2013*

  • Regular operating revenues totaled $25.5m, an increase of 7.2% over prior year’s $23.8m.
  • Operating expenses of $28.2m were up 5.7% over prior year’s $26.7m (with significant portion of expense growth due to gala expense offset by additional gala revenues.)
  • $2.62m loss was favorable to budgeted deficit and down 6.8% or $190k from prior year’s deficit of $2.81m.  FY13 results represent the smallest deficit since 2005 and the smallest deficit as a percentage of budget in 12 years. (The St. Louis Symphony has no accumulated deficit as additional special stopgap funds outside the operating budget have been raised to fund the structural gap over a multi-year period.)

Earned Revenue & Ticket Sales

  • Earned revenues totaled $7.9m including $6.57m in ticket sales, off 2.6% from FY12, primarily due to strategic re-pricing initiatives to hold prices in check, as well as slightly lower volume in Live at Powell Hall. 
  • Classical attendance grew 2.8%;  Live at Powell Hall events were off 2012 banner year by 2.7%.
  • Total attendance of 193,274, up slightly from 192,445, while average per-concert attendance rose from 1,734 to 1,757.

Contributed Revenues

  • $9.76m raised (excluding additional $620k in tour funding), a 5.7% increase over prior year.
  • The highest contributed operating revenues in more than 13 years.
  • Includes Annual Campaign, Grants & Special Purpose Funds, Sponsorships, Gala, SVA (volunteers.)


  • At the end of FY13, endowment was $148.6m, up 13.5% from $131m in the prior year, due to a $10m bequest and 8.4% market performance.

*Excludes touring revenues of $1.44m and tour expenses of $1.43m, resulting in surplus in touring

Multi-Year Context:  2008-2013

Since the launch of audience development and other revenue growth initiatives in 2008, the St. Louis Symphony has seen significant revenue growth.  The introduction of Live at Powell Hall programming, added sponsorships and special events, including the Red Velvet Ball, have also helped bolster the Symphony’s economic outlook.

  • Earned Revenues:  $6.13m to $7.91m = 29% increase
    • Ticket Revenues:  $4.84m to $6.57m = 36% increase
      • $6.74m in 2012 highest since 2000
      • Reverses 32% decline from years 2000 to 2008
  • Total Seats Sold:  165,865 (109 concerts) to 193,274 (110 concerts) = 16.5% increase
  • Per-Concert Average Attendance:  1,522 to 1,757 = 15% increase
    • Per-concert Classical Avg. 1,517 to 1,625 = 7% increase
  • New Buyers:  More than 39,000
  • Contributed  Operating Revenues:  $7.76m to $9.76m = 26% increase
  • Total Revenues:  $20.7m to $25.5m = 23% increase
  • Total Expenses:  $23.8m to $28.2m = 18.5% increase*

*Key factors in expense growth include new programming initiatives, pension liability due to market conditions and the collective bargaining agreement


Other key initiatives in FY13 included:

European Tour

The St. Louis Symphony’s European Tour, in September 2012 (part of FY13), its first since 1998, included concerts at three highly prestigious festivals:  the BBC Proms in London, the Berlin Musikfest and the Lucerne Festival, as well as a performance at the famed Salle Pleyel in Paris.  The tour, which was fully funded through a combination of concert performance fees and underwriting, was met with critical acclaim from European critics as well as St. Louis press that traveled with the orchestra.  

California Tour

The Symphony also took part in a highly successful California tour, which featured an intensive three-day residency at the University of California-Davis.  Led by Music Director David Robertson, the residency included community concerts, educational activities, and a performance at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. The Symphony also performed at venues in Costa Mesa, Palm Desert and Santa Barbara, garnering praise from Southern California press.

John Adams recording project for Nonesuch Records

Nonesuch Records recorded the February performances of John Adams’ City Noir conducted by Music Director David RobertsonAdditionally, Nonesuch will return to Powell Hall in fall 2013 to record the performances of a new John Adams work, Saxophone Concerto, a St. Louis Symphony co-commission.  

Hosting of the League of American Orchestras Conference

The League of American Orchestras held their 68th Conference in St. Louis for the first time since 1966. The Conference brought 950 delegates from across North America to St. Louis for three days of concerts, meetings, and symposiums. Longtime STL Symphony supporters Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield generously donated $250,000 to underwrite the Symphony’s hosting of the Conference.


*Founded in 1880 and now in its 134th season, the St. Louis Symphony is the second-oldest orchestra in the country and widely considered one of the world’s finest. In September 2005, internationally acclaimed conductor David Robertson became the 12th Music Director, the second American-born conductor to hold that post in the Orchestra’s history.  The St. Louis Symphony strives for artistic excellence, fiscal responsibility and community connection while meeting its mission statement:  enriching people’s live through the power of music. The Symphony presents a full season of classical programs and Live at Powell Hall concerts, as well as hundreds of free education and community programs each year. In May 2009, the Symphony implemented an encompassing strategic plan that includes a 10-year vision focusing on artistic and institutional excellence, expanding audience and revenue growth across all key operating areas.