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By The Numbers

Audiences & Operating Budget

To provide a better understanding of the Chamber Music Society and how we operate, we offer the following answers to some frequently-asked questions.

What is your annual budget?
Each season, we present some 100 concerts and education programs on a budget of about $1,600,000. During the 2020-21 season and lockdown, with capacity limitations on large gatherings, we presented a livestreamed series of 55 concerts and education programs that attracted more than 115,000 households tuning in from throughout our region, across the country, and around the world.

Do you balance your budget?
By carefully controlling our expenses, and through the generous support of audiences and community partners—colleagues and friends who share our goals for opening doors to great music-making to people from underserved and all populations, and for enriching Philadelphia as an international performing arts capital—we have balanced our budget in every season since our founding in 1986.

What percentage of your budget comes from ticket sales?
Typically, ticket revenue covers about one-third of our budget. During the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020-21, with PCMS concerts offered online on a pay-what-you-wish basis, we relied on Annual Fund support from our thoughtful and devoted Philadelphia-area fans and much-needed pandemic relief grants, and we welcomed first-time donations from more than 1,200 chamber music enthusiasts from all corners of the world.

How did you meet the rest of your budget?
In most seasons, we secure about 35% of our budget in grants and donations from friends and audience members, foundations, and corporations; 20% in income drawn from endowed and reserve funds; 5% in fees and ad revenue; and 5% in public support (city, state, and federal combined). Last season, with virtually no ticket revenue, we joined most arts organizations in benefitting from special Covid-19 public support grants. This funding enabled us to keep our staff and musicians employed, and busy with the urgent work of inspiring and enlightening our community—at a time when we all needed great music the most.

Has institutional support for the arts been cut back recently?
Over the past decade, some foundations and corporations have reduced or eliminated their support for performing arts organizations like ours. While public grants have held steady, funding from the NEA, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts can be difficult to predict.

Why don't you charge more for tickets?
A key part of our mission and values—of who we are, really—is our desire to open doors to the performing arts to everyone. People of all ages and from all walks of life should be able to experience and be enriched by great music and world-renowned musicians. While we’ve increased prices modestly to keep pace with cost-of-living, PCMS concerts remain one of the best cultural values around. We achieve this through the generous support of friends who share these important goals.

Last season, in order to provide musicians with income, and to bring much-needed artistic beauty to the lives of our audiences, we presented livestreamed performances on a pay-what-you-wish basis and introduced Philadelphia’s rich cultural life to new online visitors. Livestreams will continue throughout our 2021-22 Season, thanks to the generosity of remote donors and our longstanding partnership with the American Philosophical Society, where we broadcast from the Society’s historic Benjamin Franklin Hall. For more information, visit pcmsconcerts.org/livestream.

How have you made up for across-the-board reductions in corporate and other institutional support for classical music?
It has not been easy! We are deeply grateful to those institutions that have continued to help us keep great music-making alive and thriving in our city, and affordable and accessible to all audiences. We have relied, also, on the generosity of those friends who recognize just what our concerts mean to the cultural life of this city, and to the chamber music field. Happily, many patrons have increased their contributions in recent years, have chosen to underwrite particular concerts in honor or in memory of a loved one, have identified new sources of support (such as matching grants where they work), and have joined the Checchia Legacy Society as a means of ensuring that our children and grandchildren will continue to enjoy this incredible art form.

What do PCMS donors receive?
They receive the heartfelt thanks of a grateful organization, and the knowledge that they are playing a key role in sustaining an art form that they love. With our cost-sensitive budget, we do not have an exclusive “donors club,” we don’t spend money on fancy cocktail parties, and we don’t produce PCMS key chains or tee shirts. However, donors receive a letter of gratitude, receive a tax deduction, and are credited in our seasonal Program Book. They know that they’re supporting a secure, well-run organization that cares about them and that chooses to spend its resources on artistic excellence.

Are there opportunities for specialized support?
You bet! A gift of $20,000-$50,000 will sponsor an entire PCMS annual concert series—with naming opportunities. A gift of $1,500-$25,000 will sponsor individual concerts or education programs. These can be very attractive options for corporations or individuals. We will be happy to provide tickets for client/customer use and to work with you on other ways to help promote and recognize your business. Please visit our Sponsorship page for additional details.

With whom do I speak for more information?
We are a very accessible organization. Please do not hesitate to contact Patricia Manley, our Director of Advancement, or Philip Maneval, our Executive Director, at 215-569-8587, or (if you are vaccinated) to stop by our offices at 1528 Walnut Street, Suite 301. If you’d like, we’d be happy to meet with you as you think about what might be possible and formulate your ideas.