Skip to main content

Musicians launch grassroots fundraiser to save the K-W Symphony


Local musicians are hoping to spread the word about a grassroots attempt to save the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, days after it abruptly cancelled its upcoming season.

The symphony has said it needs around $2 million to restructure and continue operations in the future and on Wednesday it clarified it needs that money by Friday to avoid insolvency.

If the symphony can’t come up with the money, it might be curtains for the almost 80-year-old organization.

“I'm feeling a lot of sadness, anger, confusion. I think we're all feeling a little bit the anguish,” said Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, a conductor for the symphony.

The more than 50 musicians who make up the orchestra have taken it upon themselves to try and save the symphony.

On Wednesday afternoon, Allene Chomin, a violinist with the symphony, was one of the musicians who held an impromptu show on the front steps of the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts in Kitchener, to spread the word.

“We're trying to maintain hope, even when there's just a little glimmer of it. We're trying to latch on to that because otherwise it's really hard,” said Chomin.

Kendra Grittani, a cellist with the symphony has helped spearhead an online fundraising campaign.

“So I was literally, I couldn't sleep last night, and I was just sitting there, refreshing the page at two in the morning, crying,” Grittani said.

In the first 20 hours they raised over $130,000.

“Obviously, our goal is to support the musicians and the best opportunity for the musicians to be supported is for us to save [the symphony] and its current structure,” Grittani said.

But she said they aren’t going to just send the board a blank check at the end of all this.

“We are not handing over a single cent of the money that's going into the fundraiser on GoFundMe without a restructuring agreement and talking through things with the board,” she said.

If the musicians don’t reach their goal, they plan to give the money to those who lost work.

“Our primary function is to make sure that musicians who are not currently supported by EI, moved here and now don't have jobs, get their wages covered in some way,” said Grittani. “Our second goal is to make sure that our musicians who are on EI, but obviously now don't have a job and need to pay rent, mortgages and have lived in this community for so long, get compensation. After that we're looking at including possibly our staff. And definitely, we want to continue providing some concerts for the community in some way.”

For some, it’s much more than just a job. Chomin said she and her husand have been in the symphony for 16 years.

“My husband and I, we were married at city hall and we had our wedding reception here at the Conrad Centre,” Chomin said.

As of Thursday at noon, the GoFundMe was at $216,000.

According to GoFundMe, it is the highest earning Canadian campaign on their platform this month.

While the musicians are working on the crowd-sourced strategy to raise funds, they are hopeful symphony leadership are looking into help from their donors.

“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,” said past symphony chair Heather Galt, on Tuesday. “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.” Top Stories

Stay Connected