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Charleston Symphony Orchestra

aka Charleston Symphony Orchestra   |   Charleston, SC   |  https://www.charlestonsymphony.org

Mission

The mission of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra is to inspire and engage our community through exceptional musical performances and educational programs.

Ruling year info

1946

Executive Director

Michael A. Smith

Main address

P.O. Box 30818

Charleston, SC 29417 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

57-6000192

NTEE code info

Symphony Orchestras (A69)

IRS filing requirement

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

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2022, 2021 and 2020.
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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The CSO has spent the last 10 years building a financially responsible community asset and has proudly achieved a balanced budget for the last 9 consecutive fiscal years. While the organization has been working diligently to navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, the CSO was forced to cancel its final two Masterworks concert weekends due to the pandemic, resulting in significant lost ticket revenue. Revenue from ticket sales have traditionally covered less than half of the CSO's annual operating expenses, but we anticipate an increased need for institutional funders, grant awards, and contributions from private donors to continue achieving artistic excellence while maintaining financial stability. Arts programs in public schools remain underfunded across the state, the CSO aims to support local music teachers and youth arts programs through implementation of its core education programs.

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?

Music in Schools Program

CSO musicians perform at schools throughout the Tri-County region at no cost to the students or schools. For many of the children this is often their first experience with live classical music. Students are then given the opportunity to attend a Young People’s Concert following their classroom encounter with the CSO. In the 2018 season, the CSO reached more than 18,600 students, 50% of which are Title I.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

This program includes two different events in order to reach all grades, K-12 grades. In November 2015, a new concert for grades 6-12 engaged a more mature audience in a program connected to classic literature and mythology. Through an exciting new partnership with Carnegie Hall, our traditional YPC for elementary grades has a new focus on student participation. Children in grades K-5 sing along and play a recorder during this interactive concert callled "The Orchestra Moves." The YPCs are performed with a large 60-member orchestra - twice the size of last ear's YPC orchestra- under the direction of Music Director, Ken Lam.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Students

The Charleston Symphony remains committed to supplementing arts programs in schools by providing the highest level of music education and instruction for our community’s youth. The study of music is a fundamental component of any complete education, and the CSO will continue filling this community need through its accessible youth orchestra programs. The CSYO engages and inspires young musicians in a collaborative environment and gives students the platform to strive for excellence with the highest quality performing arts education.
The CSYO is one of the Charleston Symphony’s core educational programs that will make a deep impact on the lives of local children. Our youth symphony program now provides top quality music education to over 125 children from 36 schools and 3 counties, who receive coaching from our musicians on a regular basis.

In 2019 the CSO launched a new strings ensemble as part of our youth orchestra initiative, the Charleston Symphony Youth Strings (CSYS), to further our reach and strengthen the benefits of education through music.

The CSYO program aims to educate young instrumentalists on the skills needed to be well-rounded musicians. The goal at the end of the season is for each member of the orchestra to have had an impactful musical experience, whether it's being mentored by Charleston Symphony musicians, learning from the CSYO conductors, performing on the Gaillard stage, or just having fun making music with other students that share their joy. Through these experiences, our goal is for students to learn new repertoire, further their technique individually and as an ensemble player, expand their musical vocabulary, and deepen their appreciation and
love for music.

This program will also teach fundamental life lessons, such as critical thinking, collaboration, selfmotivation and discipline.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Artists and performers

Major concert series, including Masterworks, Pops and Chamber Orchestra, offer audiences rich, diverse performances.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

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.

The Symphony’s presence contributes greatly to the cultural life and artistic vitality of the community, while making an organizational economic impact exceeding $6.5 million annually. The artistic vision of the CSO is to be recognized for both performance and presentation of the highest quality music and to engage and enrich people regardless of age, race, or economic status by exploring, experiencing, and creating classical music.

The COVID-19 crisis has been detrimental to performing arts organizations across the world, and the Charleston Symphony has not been spared.

The CSO’s innovative business model has allowed the orchestra to present more than 150 concerts and activities annually throughout the greater Charleston area, providing the community with major masterpieces, lively and accessible Pops concerts, intimate chamber performances, holiday recitals, education and family experiences, complimentary community performances, and more.

Last year the CSO’s board adopted a new strategic plan with specific goals intended to help advance and strengthen the orchestra over the next several years. Unfortunately, the current pandemic will most likely force the organization’s priorities to shift next season. As of June 2020, the CSO is dedicated to implementing robust alternative plans to begin the 2020-2021 performance season to continue meeting our supporters’ expectations of delivering the Charleston Symphony experience through quality performances, while providing safe environments for patrons, musicians, and staff.

Additionally, the CSO’s core education programs include Musicians in Schools, the Young People’s Concerts, and the Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra and Youth Strings ensembles. The CSO removes barriers to access, such as cost and transportation, to ensure every student can experience a comprehensive education and can be introduced to classical music in their own learning environment.

The CSO offers education programs ranging from introductory in-school performances and instructive demonstrations, to advanced orchestral work and weekly mentoring for the region's most talented youth.

The CSO employs 24 “core” musicians who are full-time salaried professionals. The organization supplements performances with regular guest musicians from across the country, bringing hundreds of musicians of the highest caliber to the Lowcountry.

By investing more than $500,000 in education and outreach programming, the CSO will connect students to the academic, social, and developmental benefits that musical education provides. Without the CSO’s education programs, many students would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn about musical instruments or experience live classical music.

The Charleston Symphony’s core musicians made a cumulative annual fund gift of $5,000 to show their support of the organization during the COVID-19 crisis. In response, the CSO challenged the community to match their generosity for the newly created #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5. Not only did the organization exceed the matching goal on May 5, but the CSO is proud to announce this donation from the musicians inspired the administrative team to give back and we achieved 100% staff giving.

Financials

Charleston Symphony Orchestra
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Operations

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

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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

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Charleston Symphony Orchestra

Board of directors
as of 05/02/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Bobby Baker

Edward Hart

Chair, Dept. of Music, College of Charleston, Composer

Clyde Hiers

CPA, Daniel Island Financial Group

Cindy Mabry

Tracy Grooms

David Savard

Susan Sullivan

Wendi Huff

Jerry Hudson Evans

Partner, Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman

Natalie Ham

General Counsel, Charleston County School District

Stuart Ames

Taylor Charpia

Anne Cleveland

Aaron Lesher

Chris Staubes

Kay Maybank

Gerald Tanenbaum

Tiffany Silveran

Edward Hart

Renard Harris

Sharese Pearson-Bush

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? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • 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? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/6/2022

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, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data