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K-W Symphony says it needs $2 million by Friday to avoid insolvency

Almost three days after it abruptly cancelled its upcoming season, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony has broken its silence on the financial problems it says necessitated the decision.

In a news release Tuesday, the symphony said it needs around $2 million to restructure and continue operations in the future.

On Wednesday, it clarified it needs that money by Friday to avoid insolvency.

“The future right now is uncertain,” past symphony chair Heather Galt said in the organization’s first interview with CTV News since the cancellation.

“We are reaching out to all of the stakeholders that we have talked to in the last months to let them know that our situation has gone from dire to desperate. We do not have a long runway left. We are now digging into our line of credit every day that goes by and we can't sustain that.”

On Saturday evening, the symphony sent an email to the 50 musicians it employs, telling them it had cancelled the upcoming season. The musicians were due to return to work the next day.

On Sunday evening, it informed ticket holders all upcoming performances had been cancelled and it would not be issuing refunds. Instead, previously purchased tickets would be eligible to receive a tax receipt, it said.

Similarly, anyone who paid tuition as part of the junior orchestra would not get their money back.

The move drew anger from ticket holders, some of whom said they are now out hundreds of dollars.

On Tuesday, Galt said she understands the public’s frustration, but the symphony simply doesn’t have the money to refund them.

Any funds brought in have already been spent getting the symphony through the summer, she said.

“I can't tell you how terrible we feel,” Galt said. “I wish there was a different option that we had, but unfortunately, we don't.”

As for the suddenness of the announcement, Galt said the symphony had been looking for the additional funding it needed to get through the season.

“And unfortunately, we got some answers on the funding requests that we had put in in the very last days before the season started. And that prompted the final decision that we had to make,” she said.

Meanwhile musicians who spoke to CTV News said they are frustrated with the lack of communication and that leadership would wait until the last minute before pulling the plug.

"Winning one of these jobs is what we think is a secure position," cellist Kendra Grittani said. "I guess this just shows it's not always a secure position."

Grittani said if musicians had known the extent of the situation, they could have helped.

“One, two years in advance, maybe at least six months in advance letting us know, 'We need to fundraise x amount of money in order to help save this organization,' and then the community and orchestra rallies together and saves the orchestra," Grittani said. "We didn’t get that opportunity."

On Tuesday evening, the musicians of the K-W Symphony launched a GoFundMe. In 15 hours, they have raised more than $92,000. Top Stories

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