Last piece of the puzzle: Kimmel cuts rent for Philadelphia Orchestra

The Philadelphia Orchestra has cleared the last major hurdle in its bankruptcy proceeding, as the Kimmel Center has agreed to reduce the orchestra’s rent by $1 million a year.

This year the Philadelphia Orchestra’s rent, to use Verizon Hall in the Kimmel Center, is $1.85 million, plus $700,000 for support services, such as stagehands and ushers. Next year, with the new agreement, base rent will be just $880,000. The cost for support services will remain the same.

The agreement also forces the Orchestra to issue performance and rehearsal dates far in advance, giving the Kimmel more scheduling flexibility.

“Certain dates are released 18 months in advance, which is very helpful for things that need that much leeway,” said Kimmel Center president Anne Ewers. “Then there’s another segment of dates released a year out, and another segment of dates nine months out. That tiering allows us more opportunity to schedule other things.”

The ability to schedule more performances around the orchestra’s dates will help the Kimmel’s revenue stream, but will not make up for slicing $1 million off the rent. Ewers says the health of the Kimmel depends on the health of its eight residents companies, of which the orchestra is the biggest one.

This was the final hurdle for the orchestra’s bankruptcy proceeding. In the past 13 months the musicians agreed on salary reductions, the abandonded musicians’s pension fund fought for retribution, and the orchestra split with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops.

This agreement was a relatively amicable negotiation.

“The Kimmel and the orchestra are joined at the hip,” said attorney Lawrence McMichael, representing the Orchestra. “We’re both non-profits, we serve the same constituency — the performing arts consituency in Philadelphia. We both rely on the same donors and patrons. We could never afford to be adversaries.”

With this last challenge met, McMichael hopes to finally bring the Philadelphia Orchestra out of bankruptcy in six or seven weeks.

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