PLATINUM2023

GRAND RAPIDS SYMPHONY SOCIETY

aka Grand Rapids Symphony   |   Grand Rapids, MI   |  www.grsymphony.org

Mission

Our mission is to share great music that moves the human soul.

Ruling year info

1942

President and CEO

Mr. Keith Elder

Main address

300 Ottawa NW Ste 100

Grand Rapids, MI 49503 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

38-6005447

NTEE code info

Symphony Orchestras (A69)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Grand Rapids Symphony seeks to share soul-stirring music while addressing the pandemic's lingering impact on audience engagement. Attendance in the last two seasons has only reached 60-70% of pre-pandemic levels. Experts predict 2-3 years for audience numbers to recover, and data from the League of American Orchestras suggests similar trends are observed among other orchestras, as the pandemic resulted in overall lifestyle changes in audience behavior that are yet to be fully understood. Audiences now choose "special" programs more frequently (holiday & movie concerts), but attendance for core classical programming remains lower than expected. Strategic adjustments are underway, and we are working towards regrowing our audiences while mitigating negative economic effects from decreased earned revenue and increasing production costs.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Main Season Concerts

There’s no thrill quite like live music. The world outside fades, the lights dim, the orchestra tunes, and we hear that initial wave of applause—the truest expression of shared delight. With the first notes, music’s enriching, healing, and uniting power takes hold. From music enthusiasts to those who enjoy catching a show or two per season, from newcomers to long-time fans, we all belong here.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families

Gateway to Music, a matrix of 17 music education and access programs, reaches 13 West Michigan counties, through partnerships with community organizations to serve local schools and engage new audiences. Up to 87,000 students, adults, senior citizens from diverse ethnicities and economic backgrounds, as well as people with disabilities, benefit from Grand Rapids Symphony’s commitment to being a more integral and indispensable part of the West Michigan community.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Students
Teachers
People with disabilities
Families

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total number of off-site performances held

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This is the number of performances held at locations other than DeVos Hall.

Total number of free performances given

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total number of works commissioned

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Hours arts equipment has been rented

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Number of professional artists employed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

66 Contract Musicians and: Marcelo Lehninger, Music Director • Bob Bernhardt, Principal Pops Conductor • Duo Shen, Assistant Conductor • Pearl Shangkuan, Chorus Director

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our current goal is to share great music that moves the human soul by engaging and re-engaging enthusiastic audiences and by making strategic adjustments, delivering innovative mission offerings, and ensuring financial stability. We aim to secure future concert performances, education, and access to programming locally and across West Michigan.

The strategies employed by the Grand Rapids Symphony to achieve our goal include:
• Expanding community performances to engage new audiences and foster community connections, including conducting performances at Frederik Meijer Gardens and neighborhood parks to increase visibility and attract diverse audiences.
• Strengthening financial success through prudent management of private and public support, maintaining balanced budgets, and improving the Symphony's cash position.
• Conducting surveys to understand post-pandemic interests and preferences, guiding programming adjustments to align with audience trends and community needs.
• Enhancing marketing strategies through various channels, including direct mail, advertising, digital media, and social media, and reimagining the patron experience at concerts.

The most important capabilities the Grand Rapids Symphony will employ to achieve our goals are:
• Experience and expertise in delivering exceptional concerts and educational programs.
• Strong financial management, with a track record of balanced budgets and improved cash position.
• Support from committed donors and foundations, including significant, six-figure gifts and grants.
• Collaborative partnerships with organizations such as Frederik Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids Ballet, St. Cecilia Music Center, and Opera Grand Rapids.
• Access to talented musicians and a diverse repertoire.
• Strategic planning and adaptability to address changing audience behaviors and preferences.

The Grand Rapids Symphony has many accomplishments to be proud of to date in achieving this goal including:
• Maintaining uninterrupted mission pursuit since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, including avoiding any musician or staff furloughs.
• Successfully managed private and public support to achieve balanced budgets for the last four years with clean audit results and improved cash position, including significant donations from community leaders as part of a Strategic Capital Reserve Campaign.
• Contract extensions with the orchestra and Music Director Marcelo Lehninger to stabilize the Symphony's future.
• Planning strategic adjustments to programming based on audience trends and community needs.
• Engaging in ongoing surveys and marketing strategies to connect with audiences and enhance the patron experience.
• Successful hiring of new CEO Keith Elder, who started July 1, 2023, adding to the senior administration team his extensive experience in live orchestral concert production, performing arts marketing, fundraising, and music ensemble management. A former professional tuba player and accredited lawyer, Keith has already begun to make positive changes to the Grand Rapids Symphony’s administration.

Moving forward, the Grand Rapids Symphony aims to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, engage audiences, and ensure the sustainability of our mission through continued innovation, strategic adjustments, and the support of dedicated partners and donors.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection

Financials

GRAND RAPIDS SYMPHONY SOCIETY
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

GRAND RAPIDS SYMPHONY SOCIETY

Board of directors
as of 07/10/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Renee Tabben

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/5/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 06/27/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.