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St. Paul Chamber Orchestra reports balanced budget, thanks to cuts in expenses

A tough economy cut into fundraising, but the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra reports this week that it achieved a balanced budget.

It took some effort, though.

Anticipating a reduction in revenue, the SPCO said it reduced expenses by 9 percent, "by reducing the size of the administrative staff by 17 percent; freezing the salaries of the remaining administrative staff and not making contributions to administrative staff retirement accounts; reducing senior management compensation by 10 percent; and canceling a planned European Tour. In addition SPCO musicians agreed to a 12 percent reduction in contracted compensation for 2009-10."

Still, the SPCO had highlights, said Sarah Lutman, president and managing director, including engaging and interesting concerts, low ticket prices and convenient concert locations, maintaining education programs and building broadcast and Internet activity.

This is the seventh consecutive balanced budget for the SPCO, which also has no accumulated deficit and no external debt.

"Our culture is that we balance our budget and we don't push problems downstream," said Dobson West, chair of the SPCO Board of Directors. "Without a doubt, sacrifices were required this year — shared sacrifices. Organizations prove their mettle in hard times. That we've been able to deal with this economic downturn in a collaborative and constructive manner and succeed in achieving our goals is testament to the strength of the SPCO organization."

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