PLATINUM2023

Berks Sinfonietta, Inc.

Berks County's own chamber orchestra

aka Berks Sinfonietta   |   Reading, PA   |  https://www.berkssinfonietta.org/concerts

Mission

Berks Sinfonietta's mission is to: 1) Expand the appreciation, and promote the art of classical music in Berks County. 2) Create an environment for intergenerational mentorship through music making. 3) Creating a diverse and inclusive organization that reflects the community we serve, from our board, to our orchestra members, and to the music we perform. 4) Develop an enriching educational experience for performers, students, and audiences. 5) Build community among players, between the orchestra and audience, and through interaction with the community at large. We serve the Greater Reading and Berks County, Pennsylvania communities.

Ruling year info

2014

President and Artistic Director

Dr. David A. McConnell

Vice President

Mr. James R. Gilmer

Main address

710 N 5th Street

Reading, PA 19601 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

47-2060533

NTEE code info

Symphony Orchestras (A69)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Berks County and the City of Reading have a rich history of the performing arts. Despite overall economic changes impacting the area since the 1970s, local audiences today have many terrific outlets to hear music made directly in our community. In 2014, Berks Sinfonietta was established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to fill a great need, that of a chamber orchestra using local musicians and playing challenging music at a high level. Today, Berks Sinfonietta is in its 9th season of continuous operation and is a proud member of that community. Berks Sinfonietta’s mission is multifold: to give meaningful performance and employment opportunities to local musicians, to develop the next generation of student artists, and to introduce audiences to a variety of new and unfamiliar pieces (giving equal voice to female and minority composers, whose music that is sadly rarely performed). Through these performances of excellence, we aim to improve the overall cultural health of our community.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Core Concert Series

Berks Sinfonietta performs 6-8 live concerts each year. Prior to each concert, local high school and college students rehearse alongside area professional musicians. Together, they learn and grow in the context of a paid, professional chamber orchestra. Annually, we serve approximately 75 students, 75 professionals, and 1000 audience members.

We program a diverse number of new and usual masterworks with the aim of broadening the musical horizons of our audience. We regularly perform pieces by female, minority, and living composers. Since 2014, we have performed music by 67 different composers, engaged in approximately 10 collaborative concerts, and introduced local audiences to the regional premieres of dozens of works.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Students
Artists and performers

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Berks Sinfonietta has taken steps to prioritize the health and safety of our musicians and audience. Beginning in 2020, Berks Sinfonietta hosted a series of 14 pre-recorded concerts, broadcast live at a specified time. As live performances resume, Berks Sinfonietta has invested audio and video recording equipment, allowing us to simulcast those performances into the homes of viewers who are uncomfortable or unable to attend in person.

Population(s) Served
Artists and performers
Adults
Students

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total number of free seats filled for performances

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

From March 2020 through August 2021, Berks Sinfonietta operated under a digital concert model. Viewership was by optional donation. As a result, no "free seats" for live performances were available.

Total number of paid seats filled for performances

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Core Concert Series

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

From March 2020 to August 2021, Berks Sinfonietta concerts were fully online due to COVID-19. Viewership of these concerts was by donation only.

Total number of performances

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Despite the onset of COVID-19, Berks Sinfonietta adopted a digital concert model, allowing us to program the same number of concerts each year at a time when many other arts groups stopped entirely.

Total number of audience members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Our audience has steadily grown annually as we perform more concerts and increase our advocacy. Online concerts have allowed us to reach audiences at home instead of in traditional live settings.

Number of professional artists employed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Half of our orchestra consists of local professional musicians (the other half is students). In 2021, we provided paying performance opportunity to roughly 75 area artists.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

As Berks County's own chamber orchestra, we prioritize giving performance and employment opportunities to local musicians, many of whom are freelancers, teachers, and passionate scholars of the arts. For that reason, our orchestra consists only of players who live, work, or hail from our community. At any time, approximately half our orchestra consists of high school and college students. For 6-8 weeks of each year, the orchestra meets to rehearse, culminating in a public performance. In rehearsal settings, students and pros share a stand, learning from each other and developing in the context of a paid, professional orchestra. This creates a safe, mentoring environment for local, aspiring musicians to perform challenging repertoire at a high level. Because our season schedule roughly follows the academic year, students have the opportunity to continue developing over summer and other breaks, all in preparation for the next step in their young careers.

We seek to broaden the musical horizons of our audience. We do this by introducing audience members to pieces that they are generally unfamiliar with, such as a lesser-known work of a classical titan like Beethoven, a new completion of an unfinished work (as the living composer Benjamin-Gunnar Chors did with Mozart's Requiem), or a relatively unknown composer altogether, such as Kuhlau or Krasa. We also aim to perform the music of female, living, and minority composers on a regular and equal basis. This not only reflects the changing demographics of the Greater Reading area, but it is also simply the right thing to do. In February 2020, Berks Sinfonietta hosted its second annual Black History Month celebration, which was a collaboration with the Lincoln University Chamber Choir, and which introduced our audience to the choral and instrumental selections of approximately a dozen black composers. To our knowledge, no local group - and few orchestras in major cities - have committed to performing pieces by female and minority composers as much as we have.

As a classical chamber orchestra, the first priority is achieving artistic excellence through rehearsal performance. Under the leadership of Dr. David McConnell, himself an accomplished conductor and professor, the orchestra rises to the challenge of his repertoire selection. Audiences and media praise the quality of sound produced by local musicians and students.

Financial viability is of equal importance. Our major expense is artistic salaries, which is directly tied to the size of the orchestra needed to perform. The Board is careful to approve repertoire that gives the maximum number of musicians and students performance opportunity, while ensuring the orchestra can cover expenses through ticket revenue, grant funding, and public contributions. Through smart financial management, Berks Sinfonietta has been able to grow year-over-year and even offer pay raises to musicians, at a time when many groups are cutting costs and shrinking their programs. The administration of Berks Sinfonietta is managed exclusively by volunteers, which additionally keeps non-program expenditures low.

To increase revenues, the Board is responsible for giving personally (100% of board members must contribute), soliciting individuals, corporations, and foundations in our area, and working to ensure a welcoming, high quality concert experience for our audience. From a number of audience surveys we conducted, our audience enjoys our programming, returns (often with friends), and donates. Our present strategy is to continue fostering this pattern through even higher levels of audience engagement.

Berks Sinfonietta consists of a highly motivated board of directors with backgrounds including artistic performance, teaching (at all academic levels), law and nonprofit governance, community engagement, and leadership. These passionate volunteers are responsible for day-to-day management of the orchestra, including concert operations and the hiring of musicians, as well as strategic activities such as fundraising and program evaluation. Key roles and personal responsibilities are outlined, understood, and documented. Prospective board members are vetted for their interest and qualifications, and upon being voted in, sign an expectations Agreement detailing the respective commitments of the orchestra and themselves. The orchestra holds quarterly board meetings to review and assess strategic performance, but as a team, we communicate regularly and proactively to address day-to-day operational matters. This small but passionate leadership team allows us to perform 6-8 concerts annually at a high level, advertise and otherwise support said programs through fundraising efforts, recruit musicians, and respond quickly to new opportunities.

In 2019, we performed eight times, four in collaboration with other area ensembles. These programs served approximately 75 adult musicians and 75 students, and reached 1,000 audience members. Beginning in 2020, in light of COVID-19, we quickly adapted a digital concert model, allowing us to continue hiring local musicians and bringing high-quality music into the homes of hundreds of viewers. Our objective is to continue growing our audience through innovative programming, modern marketing methods, and by using non-traditional performance halls, such as churches and outdoor venues.

In addition to performance opportunity, we are continuing to invest in our players (and as a result, our local economy). Since our founding, Berks Sinfonietta has become the highest-paying classical ensemble in the area, second only to the Reading Symphony Orchestra.

Since 2014, we have performed works by over 100 different composers, roughly 25% of whom are living, female, or minority composers. While we by far perform the most music by non-white, dead men in the area, we strive to place these works on equal footing. We are committed to performing this music on a regular basis with the aim of introducing our audience to truly wonderful music.

Financials

Berks Sinfonietta, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Berks Sinfonietta, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 11/04/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. David McConnell

David McConnell

James Gilmer

Kathleen Bahena

Tony Veloz

Barton Smith

Brandon Buterbaugh

Kerry Lanza

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/20/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data