MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the University of Memphis have formed a partnership that organizers say will solve the music organization's financial hardships.
As part of the collaboration, which was announced Thursday, the orchestra will be rebranded as "The Memphis Symphony Orchestra in Residence at the University of Memphis," The Commercial Appeal reported (http://bit.ly/1Ybn9fl ).
"This may be the most significant day in the 62-year history of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra," said MSO board chairwoman Gayle S. Rose, citing the symphony's inaugural 1953-54 season. "Fundamentally, it changes our business model."
The symphony will remain an independent organization, but will relocate its headquarters from South Mendenhall in east Memphis to the university's unoccupied Newport Hall to save money.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said the partnership also will increase the symphony's value as a cultural presence in the city.
"This is not just about cutting costs — this is about adding value," said Brett Egan, president of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland. Egan was hired as a consultant to help develop the "mission and vision" plan that started the university-symphony collaboration.
In recent years, the symphony has faced severe financial crises, depleting its endowment and cutting pay to musicians to make up for years of revenue deficits.
According to Rose, the partnership should convince donors that the orchestra has the "stability" needed to raise $15 million for an endowment fund that would guarantee its survival.
"(The partnership) reduces expenses in perpetuity and solves the sustainability question that I think the donor community had been concerned about," Rose said.