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PSO musicians challenge subscribers to donate

Thursday, December 05, 2002

By Andrew Druckenbrod, Post-Gazette Classical Music Critic

Like a game of musical poker, the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are now asking subscribers to ante up to help it out of financial troubles.

Instead of just presenting PSO management with a $100,000 check, the musicians have challenged subscribers who don't also donate to begin contributing to the orchestra's annual fund. The musicians are prepared to match the gifts dollar for dollar up to $100,000.

"We wanted to play a role in the addressing the financial difficulties of the orchestra," said Hampton Mallory, PSO cellist and chairman of the orchestra committee. Originally planning to give the amount outright, the committee and the PSO development department saw this as an opportunity to further involve the public. The PSO estimates that as many as 4,000 regularly attend classical and pops concerts but have not donated. The musicians hope to inspire 1,000 new donors.

"Some people see their subscription as their contribution to the orchestra," says Mallory. "But ticket sales account for less than 50 percent of our budget." The challenge, therefore, is designed to get patrons to be a part of the annual fund now and down the road. "We are not looking for the large gifts of a one-time capital campaign," he said.

The number of patrons who respond to the challenge, which will continue this season until the goal is met, is nearly as important to the PSO as raising money to meet the immediate crisis. "There is no minimum," Mallory said. "Some might give $10, some might give $1,000."

Andrew Druckenbrod can be reached at adruckenbrod@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1750.

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