Cedar Rapids, IA – When Orchestra Iowa closed the books on its 2011-2012 season last month, it had reason to celebrate. In addition to concluding the fourth and final season displaced from its home at the Paramount Theatre, it also marked the first time since the flood that the Orchestra ended its fiscal year with a balanced budget.
“With the loss of the Paramount Theatre, musical instruments, production equipment, and office systems, we knew that business as usual was not an option,” said Robert Massey, the Orchestra’s Chief Executive Officer. “Diverse strategies were put in place to not only mitigate the flood loss, but to expand the institution’s reach at the same time.”
Orchestra Iowa took its programs to new venues and audiences by performing not only in Cedar Rapids, but also adding a symphonic series in Iowa City, run-out performances throughout Eastern Iowa, and statewide broadcasts on Iowa Public Radio and Iowa Public Television.
Four years later, those strategies have paid off. The Orchestra was able to see a fourth straight year of increasing contributed revenue and for the first time saw an increase in both single and subscription ticket sales. In November 2011, the Orchestra completed its facility restoration and opened the Opus Concert Café. Orchestra Iowa raised more than $4 million to complete the building project with full funding commitments. Earlier this year, the Orchestra forged a partnership with VenuWorks and the City of Cedar Rapids to give it more responsibility in Paramount Theatre operations when the hall opens this fall.
Orchestra Iowa saw artistic success as well including exemplary performances ranging from Bach’s St. John Passion to Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste; a Chamber Series that is flourishing in its new home at the Opus Concert Café, and expanded education programs performed in elementary schools and libraries across Eastern Iowa. In all, the Orchestra and its musicians performed 150 performances to more than 35,000 individuals.
Looking ahead, the 2012-2013 season promises to be another exciting year, complete with the return to the Paramount Theatre in November, a new partnership with Ballet Quad Cities, and the world premiere of Michael Daugherty’s American Gothic
Founded in April 1921, Orchestra Iowa is one of the oldest symphony orchestras in continuous operation west of the Mississippi River. Its 82 professional musicians perform more than 120 public performances throughout Eastern Iowa each year, many of which can be heard on Iowa Public Radio and seen on Iowa Public Television.