Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Philadelphia Orchestra and CEO renew contract

The Philadelphia Orchestra Association has signed on president and CEO Allison B. Vulgamore for another three years. Vulgamore, who took the helm of the troubled orchestra with an initial two-year contract starting in 2010, will remain its leader through Dec. 31, 2014, according to a proposed deal filed Wednesday and subject to approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Philadelphia Orchestra and CEO renew contract

The Philadelphia Orchestra Association has signed on president and CEO Allison B. Vulgamore for another three years. Vulgamore, who took the helm of the troubled orchestra with an initial two-year contract starting in 2010, will remain its leader through Dec. 31, 2014, according to a proposed deal filed Wednesday and subject to approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

“We have a contract and we’re delighted,” said orchestra chairman Richard B. Worley. “We thought it was a fair and reasonable contract that gives us a chance of keeping her for three years and working productively.”

An orchestra spokeswoman said Vulgamore was unavailable for comment.

The terms of the new three-year pact are similar to the one that is expiring. Vulgamore will earn an annual base salary of $450,000 – but with a list of extras that sweeten the deal considerably:

- A “performance based compensation” cash bonus of between $50,000 and $150,000 per year, though the chair of the orchestra board has the discretion to increase the maximum bonus to $175,000 if warranted by Vulgamore’s performance and a “significant” improvement in the orchestra’s financial condition.

- A retirement contribution of $125,000 per year, less applicable withholding.

- Up to $15,000 per year for supplemental disability insurance.

- “Executive health benefits” of up to $10,000 per year for costs not covered under the group plan.

- A car allowance of $5,000, free parking in the Kimmel Center, four weeks’ vacation, and $2,000 a year to pay a financial planner.

In comparison to figures in past tax filings for other major U.S. orchestras, Vulgamore’s compensation puts her at about the middle of the pack among colleagues heading those groups.

In addition to compensation under the new contract, she will receive $50,000 by June, 2012, as part of an earlier bonus program for which she did not receive payment.

Vulgamore became president during a period of unprecedented upheaval at the orchestra. She was in place for the signing of a new music director, negotiation of a labor deal with deep cuts in compensation for musicians, an organizational split from Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, negotiation of a new lease with the Kimmel Center and, on April 16, the orchestra’s filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Worley said Vulgamore, like the musicians, had received a cut in compensation.

“She is at a substantial reduction,” he said. “Proportionately, I believe it is the same as musicians have taken.”

Vulgamore’s base salary and benefits (retirement, car allowance) in her new contract are about the same as the old, according to court documents. What Worley says she gave up – in consideration of the orchestra’s financial condition - were previous scheduled raises and bonuses.

“She is being paid and has been paid for two years below what her contract would have called for,” he said.

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
About this blog

Peter Dobrin is a classical music critic and culture writer for The Inquirer. Since 1989, he has written music reviews, features, news and commentary for the paper, covering such topics as the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Venice Biennale, expansion of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra's bankruptcy declaration in 2011, Philadelphia's evolving performing arts center and the general health of arts and culture.

Dobrin was a French horn player. He earned an undergraduate degree in performance from the University of Miami, and received a master's degree in music criticism from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Elliott Galkin. He has no time to practice today.

Reach Peter at pdobrin@phillynews.com.

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
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