Fourteen Years in the Black

June 30, 2023 marked your Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s 14th fiscal year in a row with a balanced budget!

We sincerely thank all of the donors who have given to sustain live music, music education, and Arkansans’ quality of life over the past fourteen years.

ASO’s fourteen years in the black has been made possible because of this generosity—the support of the community, a hard-working and engaged Board of Directors, professional musicians, and a culture of partnership with all musicians, leadership, volunteers, and administrators. We are grateful and invigorated by your support!

Highlights from the Past Fourteen Years at ASO

  • Opened the Robinson Center with a free concert to say “Thank You” to the community for the new concert hall. More than 2,000 tickets were distributed in 39 minutes!
  • Formed a financial recovery task force in 2010 which set standards and practices that enabled paying off of $700,000 accumulated deficit, restoration of full-time and part-time musician pay which had previously been cut, and issuing of cost of living pay increases
  • Financially breaking even or finishing with a small surplus each year since the 2009-2010 season, while growing from a $2.8 million annual operating budget to a $4.1 million budget
  • More than 20,000 children have attended concerts free with the Entergy Kids Ticket
  • Added a new Intimate Neighborhood Concert (INC.) series and special performances, increasing the number of musician services
  • Performed in temporary venues for two-and-a-half years during the Robinson Center renovation, using the opportunity to reach and entertain new, diverse audiences
  • More than doubled the endowment from $4 million in June 2010 to $9 million as of December 2023
  • Commissioned and premiered six new works for orchestra, including a commission of Christopher Theofanidis by orchestra musicians in honor of the Board of Directors, which will be professionally recorded in February 2024
  • ASO Board of Directors recognized as "Best Non-Profit Board of Directors" by Arkansas Business
  • Set a new record for the largest annual fund ever raised by the orchestra, with more than $1 million given to the annual fund in fiscal year 2019
  • In 2020, as the pandemic arrived, ASO’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to not furlough or let any musicians or staff members go, resulting in the continued retention of ASO’s orchestra and staff members.
  • The musician-led series Bedtime with Bach received national acclaim and international exposure, with nearly 1 million people from over 30 countries viewing the videos! The series was featured on CNN, The Washington Post, and The Kelly Clarkson Show.
  • In January 2022, ASO unveiled the new E. Lee Ronnel Music Academy as a result of the largest individual gift in ASO’s history. All of ASO’s existing and future music education and community engagement programs are now housed under the E. Lee Ronnel Music Academy:
    • ASO String Academy, which provides weekly string education to more than 250 students
    • ASO’s Violin-in-Your-School program, which provides violin instruction to Bale Elementary School, Forest Park Elementary School, and Fulbright Elementary School, among others
    • The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Youth Ensembles program, which serves students ages 9-19, currently from more than 37 communities throughout Arkansas
    • The annual Children’s Concerts, which reach more than 11,000 students across the state each year
    • Bucket Band program, which uses accessible, everyday objects to teach rhythm and teamwork at multiple after-school sites in central Arkansas
    • ASO Community Orchestra, which allows adult amateur musicians the chance to rehearse and perform together
  • ASO named Geoffrey Robson as the 8th Music Director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra!
  • In August 2023, ASO broke ground on the new ASO Stella Boyle Smith Music Center, which will be a radically-welcoming hub of musical activity for all Arkansans!