The Syracuse Symphony Orchestra’s board of trustees voted Tuesday to suspend operations as of Sunday because of a shortage of funds.
The decision will bring the 50th anniversary season of the orchestra to an unceremonious end. There were more than 20 Syracuse and regional concerts remaining in the 2010-11 season.
The orchestra’s 18 full- and part-time staffers and 61 core and 14 contract musicians will be laid off Monday. However, eight employees will remain to help in the transition, Interim Executive Director Paul Brooks said, although he added that the organization has very little cash to carry out an orderly transition.
Brooks said no refunds would be issued to ticket holders, and he said any donations received during the SSO’s public fundraising campaign, “Keep the Music Playing” will not be returned.
Its April 27 concert by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma also is canceled. But despite suspension of operations, Brooks said, the Syracuse Opera has been assured that the orchestra will play for its two performances of “The Pearl Fishers” April 8 and 10, said Brooks.
He said the SSO was without funds to continue operations because it fell short of its March fundraising goal of $445,000, failed to receive $1.3 million in concessions from the musicians for the 2011-12 season and had $5.5 million debt as the major reasons for the suspension. The SSO has a budget of $6.9 million for 2010-11 [down from $7.4 million for last season].
During the past eight months, the board has struggled to put its finances in order. In July, it was on the verge of being broke and being forced to close. An “angel investor” came to the rescue with operating funds.
Last summer, the SSO and musicians agreed to a shorter season, from 40 weeks to 34 weeks, but the same number of performances.
I expect additional information about next steps will be available on the Symphony’s Web site; however, at present there is no information about the suspension on it (or on the SSO’s Facebook or Twitter pages).