Symphony Charges S.F. Library $480 Yearly, Despite $2.6M Annual Taxpayer Subsidy

Categories: Government
Thanks for placing your overdue-book fines in my pocket
The San Francisco Symphony will receive $2.6 million in taxpayer subsidies during the current fiscal year. Nonetheless, it charges the San Francisco Public Library an additional $480 per year for dropping off old programs, the San Francisco controller reported in response to a public records request.

Postage for the 126 Davies' programs would cost $53, (assuming they fit in a first-class letter envelope.)

In Nov. 2008, we reported how city taxpayers paid enough to cover symphony music director Michael Tilson Thomas' $1.6 million in wages -- an amount that only represents a portion of the money he receives in the form of payment from other orchestras, royalties, and other fees. Though times are harder, the story remains the same. One thing we didn't know back then, however, was that the symphony was dunning the library $480 for dropping off programs at the library -- two whole blocks away from Davies Hall.

The city, meanwhile, paid the Orchestra  $2,607,615. Of that, $1,981,515 comes from a largely forgotten 1935 taxpayer set-aside, created to prop up what was then a struggling orchestra. The level of struggling is nothing like it was in those Depression years. The Symphony took in $52 million in the year covered by its 2009 IRS from, down from $82.2 million the year before.

Hard times. Nonetheless, the symphony hasn't cut the amount paid to MTT, Inc., the company set up to handle Thomas' income. He still gets a cool $1.6 million.

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