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Philadelphia Orchestra campaign yields $2.6 million

Although operating for more than a month, the Philadelphia Orchestra's "Listen With Your Heart" campaign Wednesday received an ardent boost from Mayor Nutter, who issued a call for wide-spread support of the organization.

"Now is the time for Philadelphia to come together and give back to the Philadelphia Orchestra," the Mayor said at a press gathering in the rotunda of the Ritz-Carlton.

"Listen With Your Heart" — the title was suggested by the firm of public relations consultant Brian Tierney — is a broad-based umbrella term being applied to many of the orchestra's activities while it works its way through chapter 11 bankruptcy and labor talks with musicians.

The campaign implores support in the form of buying tickets for this season and next, and making donations.

Orchestra president Allison B. Vulgamore told Wednesday's press gathering that in the month since the orchestra filed for bankruptcy, 12,000 donors have given a total of $2.6 million to the orchestra; an orchestra spokeswoman later corrected that to 1,200 donors.

The campaign is separate from the $15.5 million emergency bridge fund raised from board members and a few others to help underwrite deficits for last season and this season.

Vulgamore said that the newly raised $2.6 million would be applied to the orchestra's annual fund. In addition, she told the small crowd, a donor recently pledged $1 million to underwrite the orchestra's bass trombone chair.

Just before the bankruptcy filing, the orchestra's CFO said a $5 million deficit on an operating budget of $46 million was expected by the end of the fiscal year.

Even with the $2.6 million in "Listen With Your Heart" funds, the orchestra is still expecting to end its fiscal year Aug. 31 with a $5 million deficit, an orchestra spokeswoman said Wednesday, since the $2.6 million raised since April 16 was part of a goal already figured into the forecast for this year.

If in fact the fiscal year does end with a $5 million deficit, that would be a much smaller shortfall than the $14.5 million deficit figure the Orchestra Association has often used. But orchestra board chairman Richard B. Worley has said it should be remembered that the lower number was achieved through special campaigns, such as the bridge fund drive, which will not recur.

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