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Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra lays off 6 employees

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The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has laid off six employees as part of ongoing restructuring at an organization that has been dealing with seven-figure budget deficits in recent years.

Jackie Groth, the ISO’s interim president and CEO, said the positions were in information technology, patron services, development, and communications and marketing.

“Really, it’s just part of our initiative here to balance our budget,” Groth said Wednesday morning. The layoffs were an “unfortunate” but necessary part of that effort, she said.

Forty-six full-time employees remain at the ISO, not including 85 union musicians. The orchestra had as many as 80 administrative employees in early 2009.

The staff cuts come as the ISO’s leaders try to turn around years of financial losses. The ISO's expenses of $25.6 million exceeded revenue by $1.7 million for the 2011 fiscal year. Last year's deficit was $1 million less than the previous year's and $1.1 million less than the deficit two years ago.

With the end of the ISO's current fiscal year seven weeks away, Groth declined to comment on her specific expectations for 2012’s financial performance. She said it’s too early to know because the summer season is still in progress. But she did say the ISO would finish the year with a deficit.

A need to restore the orchestra’s endowment, which took a hard hit from market woes during the recession, has been a major reason behind ISO cutbacks. The organization, which drew $7.3 million, or 7.2 percent, from the endowment last year, has been reducing its dependence on the fund.

The endowment, which the Indianapolis Symphony Foundation manages, stood at $89 million at the end of fiscal 2011, about $5.5 million more than the previous year. The fund peaked at $128 million in 2007.

Simon Crookall, the former president and CEO of the ISO, launched a $100 million capital campaign in spring 2010.

The first phase brought in $12 million to $13 million, Groth said. Fundraisers have put the campaign on the back burner as the orchestra searches for a replacement for Crookall, who resigned earlier this year.

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