Symphony News

Symphony News

A Message Regarding COVID-19

Posted: July 10, 2020

A Message from Kathryn

We miss you. We miss our musicians. We look forward to the day we can all come together in The Granada Theatre for live performances! As an organization and as individuals we are working around the clock planning for that day.

And, the creativity is flowing! There is an energy in the air as our Maestro Nir Kabaretti collaborates with our musicians, staff and community to imagine new ways to come together through the music we love, for fun and inspiration! Take a look at the articles below for just some of the recent examples!

The Santa Barbara Symphony has a 67-year history of being a part of the inspirational fabric of our community during times of celebration and during times of challenge—when music programs were cut from schools, after the catastrophic Thomas Fire and deadly debris flow, and now by quickly pivoting to virtual instruction and new, digital programming during a global pandemic.

Led by Chair Janet Garufis, the Board of Directors is committed to fulfilling our mission to provide the community—now and always—with inspiration, connection, comfort, and education, while protecting the health and safety of our patrons, staff, musicians and students.

In spite of the daunting challenges the loss of ticket revenue created, the Board and staff quickly re-acted and adapted, and the generosity and care we experienced these past 5 weeks during our end-of-season campaign has put a spring in our step as we move into a new fiscal year and our upcoming 2020/21 Season! Thank you so very much to our campaign donors and to ALL who supported us during the 2019/2020 Season!  (see article below)  

The Symphony is developing multiple performance scenarios for the fall. As you can imagine, we have some big decisions to make as new COVID-19 guidelines are announced and the pandemic situation continues to shift. We make music for you, and we’d like to know how YOU are feeling about the possibility of attending live performances in The Granada Theatre in October and November. Your responses are important to us and will help inform the decisions we are making over the summer and beyond.

During these times of uncertainty, we will continue our frequent communication. Please read on to hear an update on what we know (and what we don’t!), mark your calendar, share this email with a friend, let us know how you are doing — and stay safe.

In gratitude,

Kathryn R. Martin Interim CEO

A COVID- 19 Update from the Symphony

With so much still unknown, and new information arriving daily, we want to keep you updated and informed…even when we cannot yet know all the answers!  

What we DO know 

  • Many orchestras around the country have cancelled their Fall performances—some even the entire 2020-2021 Season. We are 100% committed to delivering on our mission—in both familiar and new, innovative and safe ways.
  • Safety is our top priority for those in our care – our staff, volunteers, students, teachers, professional musicians, board, supporters, and audience members.
  • We are using this time to continue to pivot, strengthen, and create new, innovative best practices.

Leading by following

  • We are following government guidelines and mandates. The State of California is currently in Stage 2 of the reopening plan. State counties are being monitored individually to assess feasibility. Currently, we are not permitted to hold live performances — we are considered a Stage 4 organization.
  • We are following the lead of the local school districts. Currently the SB Unified School District is considering a hybrid schedule that incorporates virtual education with limited face-to-face learning.
  • The Granada Theatre has created detailed physical distancing requirements for all its users. They include: reducing hall capacity to 29% (approximately 437 seats spread apart), no intermission, no printed program books, no concessions, and timed entrance and exit requirements. For the safety of our musicians, the number of people on stage must be reduced.Additional staging accommodations may need to be implemented for the safety of our musicians.

Increasing communication, engagement and support

  • Since the May 1st appointment of Kathryn R. Martin as Interim CEO to lead during the pandemic, transparent and consistent communications have been occurring between staff, board, musicians, teachers, and the community. This will continue to build.
  • The Board of Directors is now meeting twice monthly; enabling robust discussions on imagining what the organization can look like now and after COVID-19. What do we look like when we and our community are “healthy” again?
  • A Symphony musician has been appointed as an Advisor to the Board.
  • A collaborative fundraising campaign successfully helped us end the 2019-2020 Season on a high note — with 100% participation from the Board of Directors, personal calls to patrons, and over 200 donations.
  • New website functionality and intentionality is in development to increase our ability to share new video content and live streaming programs with the community, and to ensure the website supports engagement and financial support.
  • Increased digital content is being pushed out through social media platforms; increasing our reach to new audiences.
  • Our musicians are struggling. This past Spring, the Symphony applied for and received a federal PPP loan that made it possible for musicians to be compensated, in part, for the three concerts that were cancelled. Our professional musicians piece together their annual income from multiple orchestras — and they are currently on unemployment. It is unclear how long the unemployment benefits will continue.

Increasing fiscal strategy & transparency

  • Out of necessity and interest, every expense is being assessed in the context of our mission and the community we serve. Scenario planning is helping to ensure the organization has a plan for moving forward in such uncertain times.
  • Fiscal oversight has ensured that all of the 2020-21 Subscription ticket revenue collected is not being used to cover current expenses.We anticipate being able to have 100% of the PPP loan be forgivable.

Creating new, virtual offerings and experiences

  • Curated by Nir Kabaretti, Music Director and Conductor, a free online Sundays With the Symphony series is now creating increased connection and engagement.
  • Music Education programming pivoted to 100% virtual in the spring, on-line auditions for the Youth Symphony this summer, and new on-line instruction for all our ensembles is in development for the Fall.
  • The creativity is flowing! There is an energy in the air as Nir Kabaretti, our musicians, staff and partners are all imaging new ways to come together through the music we love, for fun and inspiration!

Questions still remain:

  • When we are allowed back into The Granada Theatre, with social distancing…will audiences feel comfortable attending? 
  • During normal times, ticket sales only cover about 40% of the costs of running a symphony orchestra. With social distancing requirements reducing our potential sales dramatically, will the support from our community continue to be strong?

We have extended the deadline on our Community Survey, please CLICK HERE to let us know what you think.