The Philharmonic Society of Belleville has enriched the cultural environment of Belleville and the surrounding communities since its founding in 1866. We performed our first concert in early 1867 and have presented musical programs in every year since, making us the second-oldest continuously performing orchestra in the United States. Our founders included a number of professionals from the community who had recently returned from the ravages of the Civil War and looked to music and arts to regain normalcy. The COVID-19 crisis of 2020 has been an entirely different sort of ordeal, but it has taken a terrible toll on the programs of the Belleville Philharmonic. We were forced to cancel 2 subscription concerts for the Orchestra and Chorale, the Youth Orchestra concert honoring graduating seniors, our Jonathan Bass recital in the Great Pianists of the World Series, our final Coffee Concert highlighting the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, our annual performance at Belleville's Art on the Square, the summer strings camp, and our Summer Intergenerational Orchestra.
Even though our music making and opportunities for our volunteer musicians to connect with our audience were eliminated, the demands on our resources continue. We are one of the rare orchestras blessed with our own hall, but the costs associated with maintaining the facility (utilities, maintenance, insurance, etc.) continue unabated. As do the costs of staffing and administrative tasks. It is unclear when we will be able to benefit from any of the traditional sources of income that carry us through the year. Season ticket sales are on hold pending setting details of our 154th season. We can not make plans until the community health standards make it possible to gather in groups of more than 50. Similarly, our hands are tied in terms of selling program advertisements and other sponsorships until we can regain some normalcy. And finally, the annual Nutcracker production that provides a large portion of our annual operating revenue may be affected in ways we are not able to predict.
We will beginning a series of Internet programs for our musicians and directors to connect to the community starting in June 2020. We hope you will join us for those programs.
But in the meantime, it is essential for us to seek monetary support from the community to guarantee that we will be able to return to performing and community service just as soon as conditions permit. Our goal of $33,500 is set to provide resources to get us into 2021, when we hope that we might be able to return to a season of public concerts and recitals.
So won't you help us stay #2? (Second only to the New York Philharmonic in continuous performance by an orchestra in the United States.) A gift of any size will be recognized in our printed programs with special giving categories of $100: Patron; $250: Sponsor; $500: Benefactor; and $1,000: Maestro.