LISTEN: How the KC Symphony plans to survive and still make music in a pandemic

The KC Symphony at Kauffman Center in Kansas City, Missouri
Photo credit KC Symphony Facebook

Kansas City, MO - The coronavirus pandemic is like a wrong music note blurted out or a bow string snap at just the wrong moment.

You planned to make some sweet music in 2020 but... ping!! goes the strings of your cello.

It might feel a little like that for Danny Beckley, the executive director of the Kansas City Symphony.  In his second year at the helm, he had plans to adapt and re-imagine how to reach more people and grow an audience. 

Then COVID-19 showed up.  What's a symphony to do in a pandemic? 



The symphony is planning to play smaller outdoor chamber music events to limit attendees due to the coronavirus.  And there's a reduction in salary for musicians as revenue is sharply down. 

 “It became very clear to the musicians, management and board that we needed a different approach to the upcoming season,” Beckley said in a press release. “This new agreement helps provide for the safety of our musicians, staff and patrons, and also will reduce our operating expenses in accordance with the reduction in ticket revenue brought about by the pandemic.” 

According to the KC Symphony, musicians’ salaries for 2020-21 will be reduced by 19% from normal contracted amounts. However, when the orchestra returns to ticketed performances in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, musician salaries will increase to only 8% below normal amounts. 

The Symphony has reduced the number of administrative staff and salaries for certain positions as well. They say the changes represents a 25% reduction in the Symphony’s fixed expenses.