Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra League—Symphony Style Program Book

A self-supporting fashion book that funds the MSO League fashion show

The Background:

The Symphony Style Program Book—a glossy color compilation of fashion images—was created as a fundraising tool to underwrite the annual Milwaukee Symphony Style Fashion Show, which has run longer than 46 seasons. The Program Book started four years ago when the original underwriter for the fashion show passed away. It was created to work in conjunction with the fashion show by giving advertising space to businesses and creating in-kind donations while netting revenue from Program Book purchases.

This project also aims to bring together groups of people who would otherwise never be involved with the orchestra. The creative process involves MSO League members, advertisers, photographers, retailers, stylists, models, and graphic artists. In the process, this diverse group becomes a new crop of orchestra supporters.

The Publication:

Each June, businesses throughout the greater Milwaukee area are invited to participate in the Program Book. For a minimum contribution of $2,500, a business works with the Symphony Style Committee to create new images with exciting concepts. Once approved, the ads and pictorials are combined into the Program Book using full-color spreads. The book goes on display at the Milwaukee Symphony Style Fashion Show in November. Each participant receives copies for their personal distribution, while the remaining 10,000 copies are distributed to businesses throughout the area, including many upscale hotels. Symphony Style is also distributed during MSO concerts throughout the year. As a bonus, the business participants are allowed to use their newly created advertisement in any publication for one full year.

The Growth:

Four years ago, no one anticipated the current state of growth; instead of soliciting for involvement, the committee now fields requests from both advertisers and community members. Additionally, the Program Book received recognition for using the photographic medium to achieve philanthropic ends.

The project is quite labor intensive; schedule coordination can be complicated when dealing with the photographer, models, hair and makeup artists, advertisers, and volunteers. Still, 2005’s publication generated $33,450 in revenue from sale of the Program Book. In-kind donations reached $40,000; they are broken down as follows:

  • Models fees: $20,000
  • Talent agency commission: $3000
  • Photographers fees: $7500
  • Hair/makeup artists fees: $5000
  • Studio fees: $2500
  • Graphic artist fees: $2000

For Additional Info Contact:
Lynn Miller, League Office Administrator at
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Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Fashion Show website