Symphony seeks to rebound, expand programming

By BRUCE SIWY
bruces@ourtownjohnstown.com

JOHNSTOWN — Maestro James Blachly and board members of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra aim to add some innovative new events in 2017.

Goals include new partnerships with young entreprenuers, with area schools and universities, and a “Mozart on the Lawn” summer series in downtown Johnstown. They hope to also bring back the July 4 Point Stadium show, a tradition that was cancelled last year.

But to do this, organizers said during a fund drive press conference at the downtown Johnstown Holiday Inn on Jan. 25, increased financial support is necessary.

“When Johnstown does well, the symphony does well,” Blachly told the audience. “And when the symphony does well, Johnstown does well.
“Let’s go forward together.”

The symphony, according to fund drive Chairwoman Karen Azer, is a year removed from a campaign that raised less than $50,000 under different leadership. The goal for 2017 is to hit $100,000 — a feat that, she said, has been done in the past.

“We are confident we can reach it and, hopefully, exceed it,” she said, adding that trustees have kicked things off with a joint $15,000 contribution.

Azer also emphasized the costs associated with hosting world-class talent. The July 4 show at the Point Stadium, she said, costs more than $20,000 when the sound system is factored in.

“We believe making a commitment to the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is making a commitment to the community at large. It takes a village to make a campaign like this successful,” she said.

Bill Locher — Azer’s co-chair of the fund drive and an executive with Somerset Trust Co. — agreed.

“I see the importance of having a symphony orchestra here as part of the culturual fiber of the community,” he said.

Financial forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service show significant fluctuations in program service revenue in recent years for the symphony. The nonprofit generated $143,376 in this category in 2011-12, but just $93,349 in 2012-13.

That figure rebounded to $118,699 in 2013-14, only to fall again to $95,924 in 2014-15. No filings were listed online for 2015-16.

In his opening for the press event, local television anchor Marty Radovanic recalled the first time he saw Johnstown Symphony Orchestra many years ago.

“I was blown away that day,” he said. “And I feel that same way every time I see this (symphony).”

To help reach the $100,000 goal, the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is receiving the help this year of all board members and nearly 60 volunteers to solicit contributions. The plan is to mail information brochures to previous donors, those who buy tickets and members of groups that perform with the symphony.

Proceeds from the fund drive are to help the symphony support its overall operating budget, its youth orchestra and Inclined to Sing Children’s Chorus programs. Board members also hope to continue the symphony’s annual Mother’s Day show in Somerset.

Those with questions are asked to contact the symphony office at 814-535-6738. Donations are tax-deductible, and can be made online at www.johnstownsymphony.org.