The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center Announce Alliance

In a year plagued by financial loss, the organizations announced that they will form a new parent company, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Inc.

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(Photo credit: M. Kennedy)

On June 17, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center approved a corporate partnership that would consolidate leadership of the two organizations under one parent company. 

The move, which comes in a year that has been financially difficult for performing arts organizations and venues, is in large part an effort to bounce back from pandemic losses like ticket revenue and help streamline business operations and scheduling.

Pending finalization of the transaction, Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky will lead the organization, while Kimmel Center president and CEO Anne Ewers plans to retire at the end of her current contract — although she has been invited to serve on the organization’s board.

“We recognize that deepening our partnership will accelerate change and progress toward a more vibrant, equitable, and engaged artistic environment in Philadelphia,” Tarnopolsky wrote in a joint statement from the two organizations. “This new organization will write a powerful next chapter in quality, access, and diversity within our storied cultural landscape.”

Previously, The Philadelphia Orchestra, which would rent space from the Kimmel Center center. The orchestra, which serves as the founding resident company of the Kimmel Center, has performed at the center since 2001. While the corporate partnership is not a full merger, it will give the orchestra a greater role at the center than it previously held.

The orchestra has a history of financial hardship in recent years — it declared bankruptcy in 2011 and, according to the New York Times, lost $26 million in ticket sales and performance fees due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The formation of the parent company allows the orchestra to pay less rent and attaches the center to the orchestra’s $266 million endowment, the New York Times reported.

However, the joint organization has advantages separate from the pandemic and will help with the transition back to live programming, leaders told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Although the leadership structure will change, each organization and their respective Boards of Directors will retain their roles as subsidiaries of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Inc. Additionally, the parent organization’s board will comprise equal representation from The Philadelphia Orchestra and The Kimmel Center.

The Kimmel Center’s seven other resident companies — including the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Curtis Institute of Music — are still working out whether and how they will change their practices following the consolidation, as they only learned of the move last week, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.