Symphony board eliminates 39 trustees

Sunday, January 20, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Hoping to create a more manageable and generous board, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra board of trustees cut itself down from 88 to 49 members.

The symphony's former board was among the nation's largest, spokesman Carter Dunkin said.

"The symphony has taken a number of steps to be more effective and more efficient, and this is one more step," Dunkin said.

Victoria Silverman, vice president for external affairs, said board members' responsibilities had been poorly defined in the past. Board members understand now that they are expected to raise money, buy season tickets and take part in meetings and events, she said.

"They are being advocates for the symphony in the community," she said.

The terms of the exiting trustees had expired, Dunkin said. Members currently considered "life trustees" will be allowed to continue to serve as long as they regularly attend board meetings.

Attendance for the typical board meeting, which takes place four times a year, was about 50 percent.

The symphony will create a 32-member advisory panel called the Board of Overseers, for life trustees and trustees emeritus who want to help the Symphony but cannot commit much time.

The symphony is battling a budget crisis. Its leaders determined last fall that it had to cut $7 million from its budget and raise $25 million in stopgap funding. Most of that money has been pledged by donors.

In December 2000, the symphony got what at the time was the biggest personal contribution ever given to an American orchestra. The Jack Taylor family, founders of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, offered a challenge grant of $40 million. The get the grant, the symphony must raise an equal amount dollar-for-dollar from donors.

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