GoFundMe campaign launched to support Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra musicians

Musicians who played with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra have launched a GoFundMe campaign with the lofty goal of raising $2 million.

As of midday Thursday, the campaign had raised more than $200,000, with organizers saying the money was intended to help musicians who appear unemployed.

“All of this money is going to musicians, and our first initiative with this money is to support musicians who are out of work,” cellist Kendra Grittani told PKBNEWS.

The $2 million goal is also the same budget shortfall the KW Symphony said it was experiencing earlier in the week.

Grittani says she hopes the musician can raise the $2 million, but she knows it’s a tough ask.

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“Let’s be realistic and say that $2 million in a few days is our hopes and dreams. It’s a little out of the way,” said the cellist, who has been with the symphony for three years.

Grittani said if they were to achieve that goal, they wouldn’t just hand the money to the KW Symphony board without having a seat at the decision-making table going forward.

“Let’s say we were able to raise the $2 million, whether it was a combination of our GoFundMe, a new major donor or something the board does as well, none of the “The money we raised doesn’t go back to the board without us sitting down to renegotiate and restructure the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra organization,” she said.

Over the weekend, the board announced it would end the 2023-24 season, with few details on what was happening.

On Tuesday, the board announced it needed $2 million to allow the season to proceed and give it time to reevaluate operations.

In a statement, it said it might have to file for insolvency, but Grittani hopes that won’t happen.

She hopes there is a way to keep the organization afloat, since it would take years for musicians to restart something.

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Grittani used the London Orchestra as an example, noting that it disbanded in 2015 and it took years to bring the pieces together for a full program.

“So we want to try to avoid having to rebuild from the ashes,” she said. “Obviously, if we have to do it and we have to use the money we raise to do it, we will.

“But if there is an option between starting from scratch and raising $2 million, which would allow us to reduce our season this year or for the next two years and thus maintain access to our endowment fund and allowing more musicians to keep their jobs is ideal.”

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