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Symphony provides economic relief to musicians with PPP funds


SOUTHWEST FLORIDA SYMPHONY The Southwest Florida Symphony paid its artistic staff for lost work as a result of COVID-19.

The Southwest Florida Symphony followed suit with every other performing arts institution in the United States when it canceled the remainder of its 59th concert season in early March as a result of COVID-19. This left more than 100 professional musicians without work and facing an uncertain financial future through the summer.

Sanibel Captiva Community Bank Chief Financial Officer David Hall worked with orchestra Executive Director Amy Ginsburg to secure a federal Payroll Protection Plan loan, enabling the orchestra to pay its musicians 71 percent of what they would have earned if the remainder of the season had taken place.

“This was an unbelievable relief to all of us,” she said. “We prepared for the application process before applications even became available. As soon as we received funding, our first order of business was to provide financial support for our invaluable artistic staff.”

When unemployment skyrocketed at the onset of the pandemic, the Federal Government made the Payroll Protection Program Loan application process available to businesses that employ fewer than 500 individuals.

The symphony employs 70 per-service musicians, 34 substitute and extra musicians and, pre-pandemic, employed a staff of 13 full and part-time employees. Businesses that meet certain spending criteria for the funding — using 60 percent or more to retain or pay furloughed employees, and the remainder to cover operating expenses — will have 100 percent of the loan forgiven. The symphony met that criteria by paying its furloughed musicians and retaining all of its full-time administrative employees.

“I worked closely with Amy to get the application done, get it in, and we’re working with her to make sure the documentation is in order for the Small Business Administration forgiveness to flow through to the symphony to get the loan forgiven,” Hall said. “I’m just really just tickled that we were able to pay out the contracts to the musicians for the concerts that were canceled.”