Along with its 93-year history of orchestral music-making, the Symphony is known for its collaborations with local schools, colleges, and community organizations to ensure unhindered access to the arts for all. They regularly perform free annual concerts for over 3,000 Inland Empire students. Even during the pandemic shutdown, they were able to provide a full digital concert as a gift to the entire San Bernardino City Unified School District.

The $2 million boost to the endowment is exactly the scale of gift the orchestra has long sought as the cornerstone of a new endowment campaign. An endowment is money kept in perpetuity, kicking off investment income each year used to offset operating costs.

Gifts of this size are unusual for regional orchestras. The $2 million gift is the largest in dollar terms the San Bernardino Symphony has ever received, even outpacing a generous $1 million bequest by former Board member Frank Plash in 2007.

The gift has already been paid to the orchestra, and comes with no conditions for spending it on specific activities, said McVay. As part of the Symphony’s established endowment, this gift will provide an additional $100,000 each year to augment ticket income and annual giving to cover an operating budget that will be roughly $1 million this upcoming season. 

“This gift is a major vote of confidence in the musicians of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra, our incredible board and staff, and in the direction we’re moving as we expand the size, scope, and community outreach of this organization,” said Music Director Anthony Parnther.

Orchestra piccoloist Kathleen Dyer, chair of the musician members’ committee, said the “gift is so uplifting because it means our work matters, that the arts matter.”

“I think this amazingly generous gift recognizes that what the SBSO contributes to art and culture throughout the Inland Empire is something worth valuing,” added San Bernardino Symphony executive director Dr. Anne Viricel. Symphony leadership is now working toward expanding the endowment further and has each pledged to include the organization in its own long-term planning.

“We cannot ask others to help sustain our future if we are not willing to do so ourselves,” added McVay, “and the Symphony has been in my personal long-term plan for many years.”

Concluded Parnther, “Our job as an orchestra is to create beauty and share it with our community. This gift makes it possible to enrich the city of San Bernardino and the Inland Empire even further. The future is tremendously exciting for the San Bernardino Symphony.”

Pictured: Dean McVay, Anne Viricel, Anthony Parnther. Photo courtesy of San Bernardino Symphony

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