With help from local businesswoman and philanthropist Martha R. Ingram, the Nashville Symphony has announced an agreement with lenders to settle its outstanding obligations, averting a foreclosure auction of its new performance hall that had been scheduled for June 28.
The obligations in question represent the balance of a $102 million bond issued in 2006 for construction of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville. As part of the agreement, an undisclosed lump sum payment was made to the lenders, which include Bank of America, Regions Bank, SunTrust Bank, and Pinnacle Bank, the Tennessean reports. According to a letter addressed to patrons on the symphony's Web site, Ingram "stepped forward to provide some of the liquidity needed to close th[e] transaction." A spokesperson for Ingram, who chaired the campaign to raise funds for construction of the hall, told the Tennessean that she "provided some of the liquidity that was needed, including the acceleration of a long-term charitable gift."
With the debt issue resolved, the symphony, which has laid off more than two dozen part- and full-time dining and rental employees since the crisis began, now faces negotiations with the union representing its eighty-five musicians. According to the Tennessean, the union and the symphony have agreed not to discuss the status of the negotiations in the media.
"The important thing is a solution was reached, foreclosure has been stopped, and Nashville will not lose its symphony and symphony center downtown," said Ingram. "The settlement is a great encouragement to all of us who have worked so hard over the years to build the orchestra and its spectacular new home downtown. It is clear now that the symphony organization has work to do to improve its operating results and develop increased annual support from its donors."
The symphony acknowledged as much. "Over the past few months, the symphony has taken steps to reduce expenditures, increase revenue, and drive contributions in an effort to strengthen its bottom line," said board chair Ed Goodrich. "Reaching this agreement with our lenders is a major milestone in our restructuring process. However, the symphony still has a lot of work to do to further reduce costs and will continue to need significant financial support from our donors in the years ahead to remain sustainable over the long term. We are committed to taking all possible measures to ensure our financial stability, and we are confident that the Middle Tennessee community will rise to the occasion to help this wonderful arts organization survive and thrive."