RPO annual meeting details deficit, ousting of Remmereit

By NATE DOUGHERTY - 1/24/2013 11:51:28 AM

The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Inc. held its annual meeting Wednesday, detailing a year in which it had a $746,000 operating deficit.

Expenses increased 6.6 percent to $9.96 million while revenue dropped 3 percent to $9.22 million.

Orchestra officials noted a deficit was not unexpected, as staff cutbacks made in the wake of the recession were restored. After two years of cuts, the RPO made investments in musicians and staff compensation as well as new programming in Music Director Arild Remmereit’s (pictured) first season.

For the 2012-2013 year, the RPO detailed $786,000 in cost reductions, including reduced wages and benefits for staff and musicians and staff cuts. The orchestra also is cutting production-related expenses and advertising.

The orchestra shed light on the decision to terminate Remmereit’s contract, detailing the actions taken in the past year. In February, a committee met jointly with Remmereit and orchestra CEO Charles Owens to stress the importance of working collaboratively.

But in March, the committee informed the full board the situation did not improve. In June, the board passed a resolution asking both Remmereit and Owens to build a collaborative working relationship, holding them accountable for progress. Board members reviewed the situation again in October and November, voting to terminate Remmereit’s contract.

The annual meeting was nearly held up as a citizen group launched a challenge. The group, which was trying to promote its own set of board members, petitioned the state Supreme Court to hold up the meeting, claiming the orchestra was failing to uphold its policies. The request was denied.

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