SM Philharmonic officially cancels coming season

Will concentrate on raising funds for youth program, 2014-15 season
2013-06-12T00:40:00Z SM Philharmonic officially cancels coming seasonNiki Cervantes/ Santa Maria Times

The cash-strapped Santa Maria Philharmonic Society has officially canceled its coming season but will not dissolve entirely, saying it will dedicate itself to raising enough money for its youth program and offering a 2014-15 season.

About 55 members of the organization turned out for the annual meeting Monday at Shepard Hall in the Santa Maria Public Library. Members unanimously elected a new four-member board that will oversee the campaign to bring the philharmonic back to full strength.

“It’s much greater than the alternative” — dissolving altogether, said Executive Director George Majoue.

The new board will focus on continuing the philharmonic’s youth program — including performing “Peter and the Wolf” for more than 2,500 fourth-grade students as well as touring around in the organization’s Music Van to visit more than 2,500 third-grade students in 31 local schools.

Majoue said the board is trying to get grant money to keep that operating. It also will embark on a membership renewal campaign and host fundraisers.

Since news of its financial troubles surfaced, Majoue said there has been a lot interest from supporters wanting to lend a hand.

“There are a lot of people signing up to help with raising funds, with marketing,” he said.

The organization has struggled financially for a while. But Majoue said it found recently it couldn’t keep up with rising expenses. Like most philharmonics, it relies heavily on donations, grants and bequests. Ticket sales represent only between 10 percent and 12 percent of the philharmonic’s revenue.

Its operating budget is about $290,000 annually.

The philharmonic has about 200 paying members but a database of almost 2,000 supporters, Majoue said.

The new board members are Jed Beebe, Lynne Garrett, Dr. Lynda Gantt and Carol Houchens.

It is also closing its office at 120 E Jones St., Suite 120, on Saturday. The new mailing address is P.O. Box 375, Santa Maria, 93456.

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