Kimmel Center evicts Philly POPS over unpaid debts

The Kimmel Center will no longer host the POPS as a tenant as it tries to raise money to pay off its debts.



The Philly POPS wants to use the remainder of its performance season to raise funds that will rescue the organization from crippling debt. But it cannot do it at the Kimmel Center.

As of Friday, the Kimmel Center will no longer host the POPS as a tenant.

“Unfortunately, the Philly POPS must suspend all performances on the Kimmel Cultural Campus while the POPS takes time to restructure its business model and raise the funding needed to pay debts and secure a financial future,” said the Kimmel Center in a statement. “Despite multi-year efforts to assist and accommodate the Philly POPS, it failed to pay a portion of its accruing debts, now totaling over $1 million.”

The POPS Chief Operating Officer, Susan Corbin, said she believed the two organizations were closing in on an agreement during recent discussions.

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“My last meeting at the Kimmel Center was the week before last. I presented a plan. We were within 10% of each other on a number,” she said. “I remain confused, and I remain willing to pick up those discussions.”

In November, the POPS announced that this season would be its last, as the cancellation of concerts during the pandemic had devastated its finances.

But after the holiday concerts, which were very successful in terms of ticket sales, the organization decided to ride a wave of popular enthusiasm and launch a $2 million fundraising campaign to “Save the POPS” by the end of the season.

However, the Kimmel Center cannot absorb the debt it is owed that has accrued over the last three years, saying past negotiations to come to an arrangement with the POPS – including flexible debt consolidation, reduction, and forgiveness – have not been successful.

“The Philly POPS is the only resident company in default and has failed to make any payments toward past or current season costs since September 2022,” the Kimmel Center said in an earlier statement. Other resident companies at the Kimmel are the Philadelphia Ballet, Opera Philadelphia, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Chamber Music Society, and PHILADANCO.

Those POPS holiday concerts were successful, but the organization has not yet paid the cost of staging those performances. The Kimmel Center is owed more than $500,000 for the Christmas programs. Corbin said that on Tuesday of this week she got a letter demanding those costs be paid by Friday.

“They well knew that our financial situation did not allow us to make what is a $500,000 payment today for Christmas,” she said. “We had shared the details of our financial situation and shared the details of the contracts, commitments, and pledges that are upcoming.”

Corbin said the POPS are currently figuring out how to finish the season of concerts without the Kimmel Center. She added that the orchestra’s other events – including visits to schools and a free public performances – are paid for with grants and will continue.

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The Kimmel Center statement adds that it will welcome the POPS back if and when its finances are secured.

Should the POPS fundraising campaign succeed and the organization can start to plan a 2023-2024 season, Corbin said it will likely find a new home.

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