September is annual meeting season for many Seattle arts institutions, and the fiscal reports for the 2004-05 season are coming in with fresh deficit figures to add to the accumulated organizational debt. On Monday, September 19, the Seattle Symphony announced a $196,000 deficit for the 2004-05 season, adding to an accumulated deficit of $850,000, to top off at around $1.5 million. The stated explanation for the deficit was "unexpectedly slow ticket sales during the fall season." A similar deficit is budgeted for 2005-06. This news was delivered rapid-fire in the midst of a heavily padded meeting program of little intrinsic merit.
The very next day, Tuesday, September 20, PNB went through a similar exercise in the Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. As with the SSO annual meeting, the bad news was delivered quickly, this time by newly appointed Chief Financial Officer Debbi Lewang, who was on her sixth day of employment with PNB. The unaudited figures reveal a $221,000 overall revenue shortfall. A specific contributor to this shortfall was the $600,000 contributed income "underperformance" budgeted for the season. Earned income (tickets sales, the PNB gift shop) also fell short by $220,000. On the positive side, the PNB School posted a $187,000 profit. Including the 2004-05 deficit, the accumulated deficit now stands at approximately $775,000.
The PNB Foundation (aka "the endowment") now stands at $10,485,000. Trustees contributed approximately $100,000 to the endowment during 2004-05.
PNB Trustee Glenn Kawasaki will chair a Trustee committee to devise a means of funding new works.
Executive Director D. David Brown reported on the progress of the Strategic Planning Process. The number one priority is to strengthen the financial and organizational components of PNB. Specifically, to create long-range financial stability by increased contributed income to the annual fund by $2 million dollars per year over a five year period. Currently, PNB has a ratio of 69 percent earned income to 31 percent contributed income. Brown stated that a 60 percent earned income to 40 percent contributed income ratio was more desirable. Locally, the Seattle Symphony currently stands at 50 percent earned to 50 percent contributed income; and Seattle Opera stands at 40 percent earned to 60 percent contributed income. [Notwithstanding these ideals, I note that both SSO and SO have incurred substantial operating deficits in 2004-05.]
A positive note that went unmentioned at the annual meeting, but reported in the Gala program on September 17, fundraising for the Francia Russell Center construction/redesign costs has been completed. This project has been near and dear to the heart of current PNB Trustees Chairman Peter Horvitz. Now that this has been completed, perhaps the priorities will shift to company operations and eliminating the operating deficit.