Detroit Symphony Orchestra Makes Investment in Future of Learning, Engagement

At today's annual meeting of the Governing Members, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) announced that Fiscal Year 2014 achieved a second consecutive modest surplus, in line with Blueprint: 2023, the organization's 10-year plan. This achievement owes in large part to annual contributions of $17.4 million, exceeding budgeted goals. This is the third consecutive year of increased individual giving ($5.4 million), donor base (10,350 donors) and subscription sales growth (13,760 subscriptions). Fiscal Year 2014 concluded on August 31, 2014 and represents the 2013-14 concert season.

The meeting opened with videos featuring DSO musicians reflecting on favoriteDSO memories and what the organization means to them. Chairman Phillip Wm. Fisher brought the meeting to order by recounting Fiscal Year 2014's biggest accomplishments. Some 250 DSO Directors, Trustees, Governing Members, Volunteer Council members, community leaders, orchestra musicians and staff members were in attendance.

"When I personally reflect on 2014, my second full year as Chairman of the Board of Directors, I'm incredibly proud of your role, the DSO's resilience and our ability not just to meet, but exceed the ambitious goals we set for ourselves last December," said Fisher. "I am constantly inspired by the many stakeholders that comprise our oneDSO family."

Following a musical performance by DSO musicians, Fisher introduced three presentations from volunteer leadership who oversee task forces formed during FY 14.

  • Josh Linkner, Founding Partner of Detroit Venture Partners and DSOTrustee leads the Branding Taskforce and presented a brand narrative toolkit. Based on the foundational phrase "We Move You," the toolkit included key messages for consideration in marketing, recruitment, advertising and more.
  • Shirley R. Stancato, President and CEO of New Detroit, Inc. and formerDSO director, leads the Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce, and spoke about a shared framework for shaping a more diverse DSO, from the audience, to the staff, to the stage.
  • Arthur T. O'Reilly, Partner at Honigman and DSO Officer-at-Large and Secretary, leads the Re-Visioning Taskforce and in partnership with Vinicius Gorgati, a representative from Boston-based planning and design firm Sasaki, presented renderings depicting the possible shape the Max M. Fisher Music Center campus could take in the future, envisioning how theDSO might set the pace for the next generation of an evolving Midtown and Detroit.

Assistant Conductor Michelle Merrill, who began her tenure with the DSO in the fall, gave the Keynote address on the future of learning and engagement at the DSO. An introduction to many new initiatives, highlights included:

  • A seven-figure, multi-million dollar grant from Clyde and Helen Wu to found the Wu Family Academy for Learning and Engagement
  • a non-profit incubation lab made possible by the Ford Foundation that fosters administrative and programmatic capacity building as collaborators with prestigious partners like the Sphinx Organization and Detroit Children's Choir
  • activities governed by our Next Gen committee of young professionals including Mix @ the Max, Om @ The Max (yoga classes with live music accompaniment) and Assemble @ The Max (speaker series)
  • Tod Machover's Symphony in D project in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
  • Live From Orchestra Hall: Classroom Edition supported by the Mandell and Madeleine Berman Foundation
  • Knight Arts Challenge project: A multi-day festival exploring music's role in the revitalization of two cities in peril: Detroit and New Orleans
  • Outreach work: small ensembles and individual DSO musicians delivered more than 400 community engagement services throughout our city last season; music therapy, hospital lobby concerts, master classes and sectionals for aspiring musicians, chamber music recitals, special performances for seniors, featured appearances at major civic events, and more

"We are a world-class orchestra, we are a community of musical lovers, and we are an epicenter of artistic expression where established and emerging partners feel at home," said Merrill. "We are revolutionizing how a city experiences music and we are an educational powerhouse dedicated to changing lives."

The membership unanimously elected Judge Gerald E. Rosen to the DSO board of directors alongside the renewal of 13 directors for additional terms of services. Rosen was nominated by President George Bush to the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in November, 1989 and was invested in March 1990. Judge Rosen became Chief Judge of the Court January 1, 2009.

President and CEO Anne Parsons closed the meeting with remarks about where the DSO is headed, and how important behavior and values are to that work.

"Projecting ourselves as welcoming, inviting and inclusive, we aspire to serve as a magnet, a beacon or standard, open, available, transparent, even porous; a cultural and community destination that is sticky in the most attractive sense of that word, reaching out as much as welcoming in."

The Annual Meeting was immediately followed by a meeting of the DSO Board of Directors, who completed the following items of business:

The Board of Directors

  • Appointed new directors emeriti to honor their distinguished service. See the full list later in the press release
  • Appointed two new officers of the Board of Directors. See the full roster later in the press release
  • Recognized the distinguished service of three retiring officers: Chacona Johnson, Bruce Peterson, and Arthur Weiss
  • Appointed three new trustees.

Fisher closed the meeting by announcing that Anne Parsons, president and CEO, and Music Director Leonard Slatkin have both extended their commitments to theDSO through the 2016-17 season.

"Nothing makes me happier than to continue the working and personal relationship with Anne Parsons," said Slatkin. "Together, we have made incredible strides in putting the DSO on solid finical and artistic paths. Solidifying the future for the next several seasons is yet another step in the ongoing growth for the Detroit Symphony family."



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