November 19th, 2021, Kitchener, ON – The Annual General Meeting of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony was held yesterday afternoon, November 18th, 2021, virtually over Zoom. The KWS reported on the financial results of the 2020/21 Season and presented the annual awards.
The meeting began with a pre-recorded performance by Artist-In-Residence Gurpreet Chana.
Music Director Andrei Feher shared with attendees the number of great successes the KWS had over the 2020/21 Season against all odds. The KWS presented by far the greatest number of digital concerts of any orchestra in Ontario. Feher impressed to attendees that it was crucial for the musicians and orchestra to continue working through the pandemic and be agent of connection in our community.
“Performing online was so much better than doing nothing… It matters so much to our community” Feher said. “It’s also so difficult for a musician to stay in world-class level shape like our orchestra members are… What we do on stage is so important, and what happens in between the music is just as important for us socially as an orchestra, keeping us healthy both physically and mentally”.
Board Treasurer David Strucke presented the financial report for the 2020/21 Season, which included a surplus of $377,000, the sixth consecutive year of surplus results for the KWS. Strucke attributed this achievement to several factors, including cost reductions in the areas of building operations, marketing, and guest artists/conductors from cancelled concerts, increases in areas like government support via the CEWS program. Even with ticket revenue and contributed revenue down, we were able to keep our orchestra intact.
The meeting included the election of three new Directors to the KWS Board. Elected to a three-year term were Julia Goyal, Mike Murray, and Rachel Smith-Spencer.
Executive Director Andrew Bennett spoke about the exceptional status of the KWS – both in Canada and in its home region. “We balanced innovation and excitement in performing virtually, prudence financially, and caution on how we provide a safe environment for our patrons, musicians, and staff” shared Bennett. “We delivered more performances than any other orchestra in Ontario – no easy feat”. On top of the pandemic challenges, a series of changes in the administrative offices occurred over the past year as the KWS welcomed three new department directors.
Bennett also praised the orchestra and his artistic counterpart: “I am so grateful to the musicians and to Andrei leadership; without them we are nothing. Transcending all those challenges to achieve exceptional artistry this past year cannot be celebrated enough”.
The Mabel Krug Award was presented to Savvas and Christine Chamberlain by Board Chair Heather Galt. She commented on Savvas and Christine’s “unflagging support as patrons Board members, and donors over many years has allowed the KWS to achieve so many of its goals”. The Mabel Krug Award is given each year to an individual (or, in this case, individuals) who has provided meritorious service to the KWS over a long period of time and has displayed an uncommon devotion.
The Rachel Smith-Spencer Award was presented to Associate Director of Patron Experience, Kim Gent. It is an annual award given to an employee to recognize outstanding job performance, dedication, positive attitude, and contributions to the KWS.
Heather Galt presented the Board Chair report, touching on themes of gratitude, recognition, the joy of orchestral music over 75 years, and looking towards the future. Galt paid tribute to the special supporters of the KWS who had passed away during the year, sharing over a dozen names. “These individuals believe that supporting the arts in a vital way to improve quality of life for us all” she acknowledged.
It was a year of learning and growth for the organization. “Imagine our founders more than 75 years ago” Galt remarked, “who would never have anticipated that we would have a whole anniversary season of concerts without ever seeing each other in person – but we did”. She continued that this could not have been possible without the incredible musicians, staff, and supporters whose dedication, creativity, and collaboration shepherded the KWS through these difficult circumstances.
Galt concluded the AGM by thanking sponsors, members, donors, volunteers, and patrons.