PERFORMING ARTS COMMITTEE
Wednesday, January 30, 2002
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 70
San Francisco, CA 94102
Commissioners present: William Meyer, Eddie Marshall, Ethel Pitts Walker, Andrew Brother Elk
Staff present: Rich Newirth, Nancy Gonchar
San Francisco Symphony staff present: John Kieser, Joyce Wessling, Sammi Madison, Oliver Theil, Michael Bartlett, Rita Chamoy, Cindy Grzanowski
The meeting was called to order at 3:00 p.m.
Nancy Gonchar explained the history of the Arts Commission's relationship with the symphony and the evolution of the contractual arrangements. In the past the Arts Commission received 50% of the revenue after all expenses were paid. The arrangement was modified several years ago to provide more programming autonomy for the symphony and guaranteed revenue for the Arts Commission. In the current arrangement the Arts Commission receives 40% of the initial property tax allocation. This revenue fund is our only discretionary fund and supports many salaries and thus is a steady revenue stream is imperative.
The San Francisco Symphony staff presented the results of the FY 2001 Summer in the City concert series. John Kieser explained that in the previous arrangement the program suffered and wasn't as cohesive as currently because too many were involved in the programming decisions. Ticket sales were negatively impacted. In the current agreement additional free concerts have been added such as the free concert each July in Sharon Meadow and concerts throughout the year in the cultural centers.
Mr. Kieser distributed the SFS's mission, vision and values statement. He explained that in keeping with the Symphony's goals as expressed in the statement the 2001 Summer in the City series had reached ever more diverse audiences with more families and children attending. However, the attendance was still 10% less than the previous year. Both the Latin Rhythms and Eileen Ivers Bandconcerts had small audiences, but those audiences could be grown. Sweeney Todd generated a tremendous response and was an artistic and popular success although it was very expensive and was not a financial success. Mr. Kieser pointed out that it was important for the symphony to be perceived as an organization that presents this kind of entertainment.
Michael Bartlett discussed the 2001 programs further noting the positive attention that Sweeney Todd received. He said that Bugs Bunny on Broadway was popular again this year and attracts families. Latin Rhythms was a terrific program but lost audience over the previous year. Natalie Cole canceled at the last moment and Ray Charles took her place.
Both Commissioners Meyer and Brother Elk requested a final financial statement for the 2001 series. Commissioner Brother Elk explained that their fiduciary responsibility required that they hold the symphony accountable for the funds committed by the City.
Cindy Grzanowski reviewed ticket sales noting that sales had dropped 10% from the previous year. They conducted a survey in 2000 that indicated that the audience for Summer in the City does not usually come to other concerts at Davies.
Commissioner Meyer noted that the symphonic concerts sold the most tickets. Michael Bartlett explained that the light classical concerts draw audiences while allowing the symphony to experiment with diverse artists.
Oliver Theil presented the press packet and pointed out that the coverage was excellent. Sweeney Todd received the extensive national press.
Commission Brother Elk asked if the video version listed the Arts Commission as a major contributor. Mr. Kieser said that he was sure that the Arts Commission was credited but he's not sure if it was included in the airing of the program.
John Kieser said that the Chinatown concert was at capacity and a huge success. This year a concert is being planned for April 14 at 2 p.m.
Sammi Madison said that, other than Bayview, the cultural centers weren't interested in concerts in 2000 at their centers. The Symphony was able to offer tickets for the boards of Bayview Opera House and Mission Cultural Center. Shelley Bell from Bayview Opera House organized the city-wide Juneteeth celebration collaborating with the symphony and the Lorraine Hansberry Theater to produce an Eddie Marshall and Friends concert.
Joyce Wessling discussed the Sharon Meadow concert that was in its 5th year in 2001 and has begun to build a loyal audience who looks forward to the concert each year. 10,000 were in attendance. Ms. Wessling would like to increase the number of street artists attending this year up to 25. The instrument demonstration area was popular, as well as all the entertainment for children. The press is beginning to realize that this is an annual concert.
Michael Bartlett presented his initial thoughts for the 2002 concert series. The symphony would like to stage another musical in concert and is considering Leonard Bernstein's Candide and Steven Sondheim's A Little Night Music. He is also considering a collaboration with Stomp for the performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Another concert under consideration is Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and Vivaldi's Four Seasons with Jamie Laredo conducting. Edwin Atwart will conduct the Sharon Meadow concert and will present popular Mozart pieces and orchestral blockbusters.
Commissioner Brother Elk indicated that he was pleased with the changes proposed for 2002. He had received feedback that, while popular, the Bugs Bunny series was not challenging. He and Commissioner Meyer applauded the fact that more orchestral concerts highlighting the Symphony were being planned.
The meeting concluded at (15 minutes after you left).
The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
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