The Columbus Symphony: A Portrait in Stabilization
“New insights fail to get put into practice because they conflict with deeply held internal images of how the world works….images that limit us to familiar ways of thinking and acting." - Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization
Just two years ago, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra faced a $1.5 million deficit, with no operating reserves, no line of credit, and a negative cash flow and balance sheet. Through a partnership with the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA), the CSO now saves nearly $750,000 annually in administrative costs. In 2010 the orchestra showed its first positive balance sheet since 2006 and for the past two seasons has finished in the black.
The Columbus Symphony is on a journey, and what is happening there is a portrait in stabilization. The CSO has made some major decisions around its design, looking to better align its structure with its goals. Have they solved all their problems and transformed the organization into a thriving model of the new 21st century orchestra? Not yet. Are they changing their own images of how the world works? Most certainly. Are they on their way to becoming the kind of learning organization that Senge describes? Who knows? Maybe. But they are moving, adapting, changing, reminding us that if words like “achievement” and “success” are to have meaning, there must be continual change and growth.
This is their story….
Chapters in Video
Introduction (0:00 to 2:51)
Chapter One: Bitter Beginnings (2:51-11:51)
What happens when an organization finds itself threatened and challenged to think strategically? Does the experience produce anxiety and lethargy or creativity and momentum? Hear how the Columbus Symphony navigated this all to familiar situation.
Chapter Two: The CAPA Connection (11:52-22:27)
Outsourcing or partnership? Listen as representatives of the CSO and The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts outline their "hybrid" approach to sharing resources.
Chapter Three: New Designs for New Times (22:28-32:18)
Can orchestras rethink their institutional designs to make themselves more nimble and responsive to the marketplace? Listen as the CSO and CAPA discuss the "sea change" affecting the field and how they are responding to it.
- Bill Conner, president and CEO, CAPA; managing director and CEO, Columbus Symphony Orchestra
- Martin Inglis, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Battelle; chairman, board of trustees, Columbus Symphony Orchestra
- Betsy Sturdevant, principal bassoon, Columbus Symphony Orchestra; chair, Columbus Symphony Orchestra committee
- Roland Valliere, president and chief creative officer, Columbus Symphony Orchestra
- Catherine Maciariello (interviewer), president, HieroResources LLC
- Hello Columbus by Rebecca Winzenried
- The 21st Century Columbus Symphony by Roland Valliere
- Columbus Arts Market Sustainability Analysis by AMS Planning & Research Corp.
- The League’s Audience Demographic Research Review
- The League’s Public Value Toolkit
- The League’s civic assessment tool, “Your Orchestra, Your Community: Roadmap for Success