San Francisco Symphony Releases Statement Regarding Future & Finances

By Francisco Salazar

In light of the recent announcement regarding Esa-Pekka’s decision to conclude his tenure as Music Director following the culmination of his five-year contract in June 2025, CEO Matthew Spivey and Board Chair Priscilla Geeslin have released a statement regarding the orchestra. 

In a statement, the orchestra said, “In recent years, we have strived to be as transparent as possible about the mounting financial pressures that the Symphony is facing due to the cumulative impact of operating deficits stretching back more than a decade. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated and accelerated problematic trends in declining fundraising and ticket sales even as organizational expenses have continued to increase. As a result of these financial circumstances, the Symphony is now faced with a series of difficult and painful decisions to pare back or temporarily discontinue certain programs and initiatives that are extremely important to all of us. We take these actions very seriously, and they are done solely to stabilize the organization’s finances and secure the future of this institution.”

The statement added that there will be “temporary reductions to some programs to better scale our activities including reducing the frequency of SoundBox programs, semi-staged productions, and commissions of new compositions so that these activities can be sustained by existing restricted endowment support and/or dedicated funding.”

It also noted that expenses exceed revenue and noted that “in 2022–23, the Symphony’s operating expenses totaled $78.6 million, while operating revenues, exclusive of extraordinary one-time contributions, totaled just $67.4 million.”

The statement also addressed the future and said, “Our board and administrative leadership share our musicians’ convictions. Our aspirations for the organization’s artistry and its impact on our audiences have not changed. Our board carries a fiduciary responsibility and remains steadfastly committed to maintaining the San Francisco Symphony at the highest possible level, but we must take action to stabilize the organization’s finances and secure its future. Many of our donors have communicated to us that to inspire giving at the levels required to fund the Symphony’s shared goals, we must live within the parameters of our available financial resources, make structural changes to our operations, and demonstrate an ability to achieve a balanced budget.”

You can read the entire statement here.