Here's a little quiz for you. It's about a field trip our 5th grade students enjoyed last week. Let's say you've done your homework and already know the kids went by bus - actually bus after bus after bus - to the Downey Theatre for a concert. You realize the theater doesn't hold 1,660 5th-graders, so each performance was given three times by the musicians of the Downey Symphony Orchestra.You also know that transportation, theater rental, logistical planning, and lots of teachers and moms keeping order were handled by Downey's Unified School District, bless 'em. Now for the quiz: 1.) How much does all that cost the Symphony? (Factor in one orchestra rehearsal in the theater, the three concerts, theater staff assistance, and clean-up.) 2.) The orchestra offers this great program for the kids every year. Where does the money come from? 3.) How do the Symphony Board and Symphony Guild raise money to pay for the regular evening concerts and all those Music in the Schools performances in every elementary school in the city? 4.) Many orchestras across the nation have had to curtail concerts or close down entirely. What is the situation with Downey's orchestra? (a) down the tubes, (b) struggling but determined, (c) doing fine, thanks. OK, end of quiz, pencils down. Here are the answers: 1.) How much does the 5th-grade concert cost? $17,000. Need that repeated? $17,000. 2.) Where does the money come from? In previous years we have received funding for this portion of the Music in the Schools program by soliciting support from individuals in the community or through corporate grants. For the second year, a bunch of angels called the Downey Kiwanis Foundation paid the entire tab, recognizing the value of excellent, live music in the experience of children. We are thrilled and thankful for the Kiwanis Foundation's enlightened generosity. 3.) How do we pay for the rest of the year? By ensuring first-rate concerts, we feel that people will tell their friends, buy tickets, and come. By opening kids' minds to great music, we build future audiences. Ongoing support comes through donations from individuals, local government, businesses, service clubs, and schools PTAs. We research and submit grant proposals. We sell ads for the printed concert programs. We sell the programs. The Guild presents fresh, fun events throughout the year to raise money and community awareness. We auction stuff: live auctions, silent auctions, and the famous Baton Auction where you get to conduct the orchestra. We sell goodies at intermission. We watch every expense. We squirrel supplies, resources, space. We work hard. But we are lavish when it comes to commitment and enthusiasm. 4.) And how are we doing overall? Well, not one Downey Symphony treasurer in living memory has failed to warn his board at each monthly meeting, "We're in danger of not making it." But you may have noticed that we celebrated the orchestra's 50th anniversary last year, and just finished an exciting, successful Year 51. So the correct answer is (b). We've always struggled, but we've always been determined as well, and that has resulted in a treasure for any city - its own symphony orchestra. We hope you see it that way, and will support the Downey Symphony for many more good years. We welcome your financial help, or course, but also your involvement in our activities and your resolve to keep the music alive. You are a treasure, too. Please visit our website at www.downeysymphony.com or leave us a message at (562) 403-2944.
********** Published: April 3, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 50