Each year, Orchestras Canada collects and collates financial and audience information from member orchestras and produces a detailed Comparative Report. The Report is shared among participating orchestras, and used for advocacy and ongoing research. The 2019/20 Comparative Report contains information from 72 orchestras, including all member orchestras with budgets over $1.5 million, and almost all orchestras with budgets over $50,000.
The Summaries are created using the detailed information in the Comparative Report. They provide an overview of the Canadian orchestra industry for the 2019-20 season. Information from all participating orchestras is consolidated in two ways: by budget size and by regions.
Percentages are calculated in two ways: 1) percentages based on the aggregate totals, and 2) “averages-of-percentages” using the individually calculated percentages for each of the 72 participating orchestra. The “average-of-percentages” approach is useful when considering relatively small samples of organizations of disparate size and scope, especially in the Summary by Regions. Percentages based on the aggregate totals are useful when considering larger samplings. We find both sets of percentages useful.
We use “Cost per audience contact” (CPAC) calculations in the Summaries, at the bottom of each column. We commend this calculation tool to participants who may wish to do additional comparative research on their own. CPAC is a simple calculation: total expenses divided by total audience. This tool is useful for making a quick determination of an organization’s overall business efficiency relative to its budgetary neighbours.
Beginning in mid-March 2020, orchestras cancelled their planned events. A few began producing online presentations almost immediately. Other followed their lead. In response, we added an Online Activity section at the bottom of the report, not really knowing what information might come in. The information provided in the Summaries reflects only what occurred up until the end of the 19/20 fiscal year. Online presentations have truly blossomed in the present (2020-21) season.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the Canadian orchestral community. To help illustrate that impact, we have opted to produce two combined summaries, showing information from 2018-19 and 2019-20 side-by-side, with % changes for each major budget area. As you might imagine, virtually all year-to-year changes were negative, with the exception of Government Support and especially Special/Projects revenue.
We make no additional analytical comments about these Side-by-side Summaries for two reasons. 1) These summaries were created very recently. They are thick with detail and not easily analyzed in haste. 2) All information here is for the season ending in spring/summer 2020. As of this writing, we are already halfway through 2020-21. We know that online activity has exploded, and that orchestras are connecting with their publics in ways that were not on the drawing board a year ago. We already know that the 2020-21 Comparative Report will look considerably different from the 2019-20 Report, and will be very different from years prior. Orchestras Canada’s challenge is to keep abreast of what’s happening right now.
Each year we produce these Summaries using straightforward information and commonly accepted definitions, avoiding subjective judgments as much as possible. The accuracy of the Summaries is dependent primarily on the accuracy of information provided by the 72 participating orchestras, followed by accurate transfer of information to the master spreadsheets. If significant errors in these Summaries are noticed, we would appreciate knowing.
Stephen Smith (Statistician, Orchestras Canada)