Financial Matters

We are now looking forward to our new term and a new year. As always our aim and vision is to give members the opportunity to sing a wide variety of works within the classical choral tradition. Our concerts include well known work as well as less familiar pieces. We are lucky in that we are able to attract professional soloists of the highest calibre and reputation, while having a long standing relationship with an excellent orchestra. We do not audition and believe that this should always be one of our commitments. Our future plans reflect our ambitions – we look forward to singing the Verdi Requiem at the end of 2014; a big performance in every sense. We are considering a commissioned piece from an established composer for 2015 or 2016 to celebrate forty years of singing.

All our concerts cost a significant amount to stage. Recently the Committee has taken a hard look at our finances in view of the rising costs involved  – the hire of our venues, the orchestral music and fees for soloists are just some. At present when an orchestra and soloists are involved our concerts typically cost around £10,000, sometimes more. In recent years the choir has simply not raised enough money each year to cover our costs. As a result, our reserves have been reducing year on year and soon will be spent entirely. We need to change.

The matter was raised at the AGM and in response the Committee asked a number of members of the choir with professional experience in this area to look at our finances and to make some recommendations. We have received their report and have accepted their advice. We have already put in place their first suggestion which related to concessions and will be increasing ticket prices from Autumn 2014.

However, we need to do more. Our biggest – almost our only – source of income is the subscriptions paid by our members. Even with a hundred members paying the current rate of £75 per term we frequently do not cover the cost of a concert so it has been essential to review and raise our membership rates as our experts advised. This will happen in two stages: for the next two terms the subscription will go up to £85; from autumn 2014 it will be £100. We have always included both the music and tickets, usually three, in the subscription. This will continue, though the number of tickets allocated will be reviewed for each concert. We see this as a valuable addition to membership, enabling you to bring friends and family to the concerts. It is also unique and we compare favourably with other amateur choirs where members both have to supply their own music and are required to buy a specific number of tickets. We also compare well with adult education classes where fees for a term are usually above £200.

 We do not want any member to feel that the fees prevent them from singing; as always our Treasurer is very happy to talk to anyone who will struggle to meet these increases. Do please speak to Charlotte Simon, our Treasurer,  if this applies to you.

We hope that such an increase, together with an aim to attract more members, will provide a secure basis for our future plans. We could, of course choose a different route – scaling back all our concerts by using orchestra and soloists more sparingly. This would certainly keep the cost to members down. However the ambition and scale of the Festival Chorus is one of its key attractions and we do not get the impression such a route is what choir members want. Rather we will strike a balance between concerts that cost a great deal and those that cost less, to ensure we exist within our means.

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