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St. Paul Chamber Orchestra ends year in the black and lowers ticket prices

Despite a tough economy, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra finished its fiscal year with a small surplus, thanks to budget cuts, salary freezes and cancellation of a trip to Europe.

The orchestra also announced a cut in ticket prices for the 2010-11 season at the Ordway Center.

The balanced budget — with a small surplus — comes for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. It’s the 15th balanced budget in 16 years for the SPCO, which has no accumulated deficit and no external debt.

Officials said some of the cuts made to ensure the balanced budget included reducing the size of the administrative staff by 17 percent, not making contributions to staff retirement accounts and reducing senior management compensation by 10 percent.

Ticket prices at SPCO concerts next season at the Ordway will be lowered to $10, $25 and $40, down from the current range of $11-$59.

In the new pricing scheme, more than 75 percent of the hall will be priced at $25 or less.

Said SPCO President and Managing Director Sarah Lutman: “Our goal is simple: We want to be the most accessible major orchestra in the world.”

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