Caitlin Row

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October 18, 2012
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Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra hopes to expand its reach

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra began as a little band of hobbyists - first known as the Mesa College Symphony in the 1930s. And since its official inception in 1978, the group has grown to be its own entity with paid musicians, a regular schedule, a longtime music director and a staff to back up its operations.

"The budget has continued to grow over the past 35 years," Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra's Executive Director Kelly Anderson said. "The future looks very strong. Our current budget total is $650,000."

According to Anderson, ticket sales for events make up the largest percentage of the symphony's annual revenue, at $266,000 (32 percent). From there, funding for the local nonprofit is pretty spread out, coming from special events (21%), individual donors (17%), corporate support (15%), in-kind donations (6%), foundation and grants (4%), and fundraising by the Symphony Guild and others (5%).

The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra has four full-time administrative staffers including both Anderson and music director Maestro Kirk Gustafson. Plus, the organization boasts of 90+ active volunteers and 95 musicians to draw upon for concerts.

"Volunteers help bring in donors," Anderson added, "and they're instrumental in all that we do. We rely on them much more as a small organization, and that makes sense in the current economy."

With such a small administrative staff, there's not a lot of time for grant writing. So, volunteers help with that, too.

Though Gustafson has been with the symphony since 1987, another substantial change to the group comes with Anderson himself. The new executive director started only four weeks ago after Michael Schwerin resigned his post after four years.

"It looked like a perfect fit for me," Anderson said. "It's a great opportunity to grow in a leadership role."

With new leadership comes lots of new goals; Anderson said he'd love to see GJSO expand in a variety of ways.

"We want to be a bigger presence in the community," he said. "We're looking for more performing opportunities."

The GJ Symphony currently plays 10-12 performances a year, and Anderson said he would like to see that number double. Plus, he said he'd like to offer matinees and more contemporary performances to attract a broader demographic for continued growth. Currently, the GJ Symphony's regular audience falls into the 55+ age bracket.

Educational opportunities and maybe even a change in venue are also on Anderson's list of goals for the symphony over the next 10 years. Currently, performances are held at Grand Junction High School, but there may come a time when the symphony could perform at the historic Avalon Theatre or even have its own structure. While the Avalon's stage is currently too small to hold the whole symphony, a pending City of GJ project to expand the Avalon's stage and seating area may amend that situation.

"I would love to have a youth symphony and greater outreach for education," Anderson added.

For more information about the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra and its performance schedule, visit

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The Post Independent Updated Oct 18, 2012 04:19PM Published Oct 18, 2012 04:18PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.