Just 50 donors have come together to give the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra a £2 million funding boost, helping it to stay afloat in the face of swingeing budget cuts.
In what might become a new template for the funding of the arts, the CBSO made an appeal for help amid serious drops in public finances.
The symphony orchestra has seen a quarter of its income from government chopped in the last five years.
As a result, the Arts Council England’s Catalyst programme was created to encourage new funding streams, especially from private sources.
The initiative pledged to match donations pound for pound from private supporters, up to a total of £1 million.
The CBSO had a deadline of July 31 to raise the money – and managed to do it with two weeks to spare – with around 50 supporters coming forward.
The generous donors included every member of the CBSO Development Trust and Board, outgoing music director Andris Nelsons , and other close supporters.
The cash will go into an endowment fund which will generate interest to help the running of the famous orchestra and its projects.
CBSO chief executive Stephen Maddock said: “We are extremely grateful to those who have contributed so generously to this initial endowment target.
“Alongside increasing levels of annual fundraising, income from the endowment will be vital in securing the excellence and breadth of the CBSO’s work.
“We have absorbed a 25 per cent real-terms reduction in our public funding since 2010, and this is just the beginning of a fundamental shift towards securing our future with increased private support.”
The investment interest generated from the donations will be around seven to eight per cent of the £1.2 million which the orchestra must raise from the private sector each year to sustain its world-class concerts, an extensive educational and community programme, its six choirs and youth orchestra.
CBSO Development Trust chairman Chris Loughran said: “Reaching our catalyst target is a significant achievement and an encouraging step on our fundraising journey. Our city is blessed with an orchestra and chorus of world renown. We continue to champion the orchestra’s importance to our local economy and society, and look forward to welcoming many more people to our family of supporters in the years ahead.”
In a report the Arts Council concluded: “Arts Council England’s Catalyst programme is a bold initiative with the long term aim to transform the funding base of a large cohort of arts organisations by growing private giving revenues.
“In this, it is looking to support nothing less than structural change in the arts sector.”
Peter Knott, area director, Midlands at Arts Council England, added: “This is really fantastic news for the CBSO. Continued public investment is crucial for supporting our nation’s world-class arts and culture and the benefits it brings to people and places, but in the current economic climate it’s vital for arts and cultural organisations to be exploring new ways to generate income and raise funds.
“This was the ambition behind our catalyst programme so we’re delighted to hear that the CBSO has reached its target and begun forging those all-important relationships for the future.”
The CBSO has won international acclaim for its concerts and performs for more than 200,000 people each year.
It also offers musical education for the region’s least privileged children, nurtures 750 talented musicians through its six choirs and youth orchestra and serves as one of Birmingham’s highest-profile ambassadors on the world stage through its tours, broadcasts and recordings.