Matthew White joined the Victoria Symphony as CEO in October of 2020, just as they were grappling with an entirely virtual season. He spoke to our club on February 11th.
Only a few months before, he left a very successful 8-year tenure as Artistic Director of Early Music Vancouver but his first career was as one of Canada’s top counter tenors, performing extensively throughout Europe, Japan and North America. While he has excellent credentials as a business builder he is a Juno and Grammy award nominated artist first.
Their first task was to establish operating principles for their first virtual season.  They are 
  • To operate safely 
  • To maintain and expand engagement with VS audiences
  • To keep the organization intact both in terms of the orchestra personnel and administration
  • To experiment with digital technology
  • To explore new media partnerships
  • To increase access
  • To explore new sources of revenue
  • To remain flexible during ever-changing COVID times
It was necessary to reduce their budget from $5 million to $3 million and they negotiated a 75% compensation package for musicians.  Since September, they have performed concerts, socially distanced and with no live audiences, from Christ Church Cathedral, the Farquhar auditorium and the Royal theatre.  Matthew pointed out that their production team is as important as their musicians and they are fully committed to quality sound and video.    
After conducting surveys of their audiences, they planned a virtual season of two major concerts per month which are broadcast via YouTube and Facebook Live,  with an average length of one hour, including an interview with artists.  Since October they have had 15,000 views on YouTube, and have a Facebook reach of 85,000.   All programs are free to the viewer and they are receiving donations from listeners around the world. 
They developed a partnership with CHEK TV, who broadcast their Christmas concert twice, to more than 150,000 people.  The concert was free and donations earned record holiday revenues.    
Their Children’s Program is about to go virtual, and they are currently recording pieces which will be available province-wide, complete with lesson plans for instructors.  Thanks to a generous local donor, these will be made available at no cost. 
The Victoria Symphony have faced many challenges and celebrated many successes this season.   They face many more challenges wondering where they go from here.    
You can watch and listen to their virtual concerts on their website.