Generous Local Foundation Support Helps Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Chart a New Course Forward

Heinz Endowments, The Benter Foundation, Eden Hall Foundation Invest in the PSO’s Future

Three local foundations have agreed to assist the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as it establishes a strong road map for its future.

“Throughout the Pittsburgh Symphony’s long history, the local foundation community has been incredibly supportive,” said Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO. “As we work hard to ensure bright days ahead for the symphony, this community’s ongoing belief in the relevance of our mission in Pittsburgh and the world — as evidenced by the exceptional generosity of the Heinz Endowments, The Benter Foundation and the Eden Hall Foundation — is not only deeply appreciated but pivotal for our growth and long-term success.”

The Board of the Heinz Endowments has made a $5 million grant to the orchestra. The funding will be used over a five-year period to support the orchestra’s efforts to restructure its business plan, increase earned and contributed revenue, and attain financial stability.

The terms of the gift are as follows:

  • $500,000 payable in August 2017.  These funds are earmarked for assistance with liquidity /areas of greatest cash needs early in the new contract.
  • $2.5 million designated as a challenge grant.  These funds are conditioned upon the PSO challenging the community to match these funds with $2.5 million of new or increased Annual Fund gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations by the end of the 2018-2019 season.  The challenge is now under way and will end August 31, 2019.
  • $1 million per year in both fiscal years 2020 and 2021 predicated upon mutually agreed upon benchmarks once the orchestra’s five-year financial plan is completed in June 2017.

“The Endowments has approved this funding in recognition of the compromises made by management and the orchestra to address the current financial situation, and because of our belief in the course set by management to ensure fiscal responsibility and symphonic excellence,” said Grant Oliphant, president of the Endowments. “We wish them every success in navigating the next five years successfully.”

As well, The Benter Foundation and The Benters have committed a total of $1 million to the Pittsburgh Symphony over the next four years.

The terms of these gifts direct:

  • $500,000 to support the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s designation of the highest and best uses of funds (contingent upon meeting jointly agreed upon financial benchmarks each year).
  • $500,000 paid over four years to support innovative summer programming at Heinz Hall, beginning in 2017 (contingent upon meeting jointly agreed upon metrics of success each year).  The offering of enhanced summer programming is a priority within the symphony’s five-year strategic fundraising plan towards a goal of $75 million.

“The Pittsburgh Symphony is a tremendous asset in this region. We are committed to doing our part to help the PSO at this critical time. We hope that these recent investments from these funders will spark many more gifts from across the community to insure the Symphony’s progress and continuing contributions,” said William Benter, President of The Benter Foundation.

Eden Hall Foundation has also agreed to repurpose the remaining two years of a previously awarded operating grant ($500,000 in total) to be used as a challenge grant to inspire donors at the $5,000 level and above to increase their giving levels.

Eden Hall’s Executive Director Sylvia Fields commented, “Among other priorities, our foundation is intensely interested in working to assure that the arts thrive in Pittsburgh, now and far into the future.  With this award, we hope to inspire many others in the city to support the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.”

Jodi Weisfield, senior vice president of development and chief development officer at the Pittsburgh Symphony, said, “There is a tremendous amount of work ahead for the Pittsburgh Symphony’s fundraising team—and we depend on the ongoing passion and generosity of the Pittsburgh community, as demonstrated by these important foundation gifts, to help us as we continue to implement our five-year strategic plan.  We are so grateful.” 

The PITTSBURGH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, known for its artistic excellence for more than 120 years, is credited with a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians, and a strong commitment to the Pittsburgh region and its citizens. Past music directors have included Fritz Reiner (1938-1948), William Steinberg (1952-1976), Andre Previn (1976-1984), Lorin Maazel (1984-1996) and Mariss Jansons (1995-2004).  This tradition of outstanding international music directors was furthered in fall 2008, when Austrian conductor Manfred Honeck became music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony. The orchestra has been at the forefront of championing new American works, and gave the first performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” in 1944 and John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine in 1986. The Pittsburgh Symphony has a long and illustrious history in the areas of recordings and radio concerts. Its “Pittsburgh Live!” series with Reference Recordings has resulted in back-to-back Grammy Award nominations in 2015 and 2016. As early as 1936, the Pittsburgh Symphony broadcast on the airwaves coast-to-coast and in the late 1970s it made the ground breaking PBS series “Previn and the Pittsburgh.” The orchestra has received increased national attention since 1982 through network radio broadcasts on Public Radio International, produced by Classical WQED-FM 89.3, made possible by the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. With a long and distinguished history of touring both domestically and overseas since 1900 — including international tours to Europe, the Far East and South America—the Pittsburgh Symphony continues to be critically acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest orchestras.


1 Comment

  • Ford Business Machines
    Posted April 9, 2017

    Great to hear!

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