Amarillo Symphony to Carry On Legacy of Greater Southwest Music Festival | The Amarillo Symphony

Posted on June 4, 2018 in

AMARILLO, TEXAS – (June 4, 2018) – In a deal that saves the core of one organization and raises the impact and profile of the other, the Amarillo Symphony has agreed to absorb the Greater Southwest Music Festival, Inc, currently a stand-alone nonprofit.

The Greater Southwest Music Festival (GSWMF), the organization, will close its doors on July 1, 2018, and the Music Festival will continue to operate as a program under the Amarillo Symphony umbrella. This agreement brings together two major Texas Panhandle nonprofits in a deal that strengthens both organizations’ missions.

“For 47 years we have been able to serve musical organizations and students in a 5-state area through competition, but our recent financial struggles have led us to join with the Amarillo Symphony so that we can continue to serve for many years to come,” said GSWMF President Jim Hutson.

The largest single education initiative now under Symphony leadership is the Greater Southwest Music Festival program, with over 8,000 student musicians performing at the Amarillo Civic Center and Amarillo College Washington Street Campus annually in early May. The current Board of Directors of the Greater Southwest Music Festival will transition to a volunteer committee, which will continue to execute the Festival. Two of its board members also will join the Symphony’s Board of Directors.

“Leaders of the two organizations have discussed for months the possibility of a merger, a move prompted by GSWMF’s precarious financial situation but one that centers on their mutual missions to deliver high quality music education experiences for students in our region,” said Corey Cowart, Amarillo Symphony Executive Director. “Through this agreement the Symphony will be looking to strengthen the GSWMF and sustain it as a symbol of excellence, attract new visitors to our city, and earn positive attention for our region throughout the State and beyond.”

The Greater Southwest Music Festival was founded in 1969 by a group of local businessmen, musicians, educators, and other professionals to promote the educational and cultural aspects of fine arts among young people in middle and high schools. The first festival was held in 1971 and has been ongoing annually since that time.

The news of the merger comes after last September’s vote to close by the GSWMF’s board of directors. Thanks to generous one-time gifts and community support the GSWMF was able to secure the resources to hold the most recent Festival in May 2018.

“The GSWMF is solvent in terms of operating the Music Festival each May, but overhead expenses during the six months when entry fees are not being collected were too strong a drain on the reserves from the previous Festival,” said Hutson. “In contrast, the Amarillo Symphony brings in-house fundraising professionals, active year-round, who have increased contributed revenue over 60 percent in recent years.”

“The Amarillo Symphony is in a strong financial position to absorb the Greater Southwest Music Festival program. In its most recently completed fiscal year, the Symphony sold over 86% of all available tickets to its season programing and reached 10,000 students through its education and community engagement initiatives,” said Laura Street, Amarillo Symphony Board President. “Currently, the Amarillo Symphony has a $1.6 million endowment and $3.5 million in investments and unrestricted funds. That creates a strong home for GSWMF making this an exciting future for all students, directors, and volunteers involved with this important Amarillo event.”

Street concluded, “I am so grateful for the philanthropic support this community has invested in the Amarillo Symphony over our 93 years of existence. It has allowed the us to take this important step on firm footing.”

About the Greater Southwest Music Festival

The Greater Southwest Music Festival has, for 47 years, encouraged musical excellence in junior and senior high schools in a 5-state area through competition. The festival is held at the Amarillo Civic Center, the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, and Amarillo College during the first weekend in May. An all-volunteer group of dedicated individuals plan and produce the festival each year.

About the Amarillo Symphony

Founded in 1924, the mission of the Amarillo Symphony is enriching life in the Texas Panhandle through great orchestral performance and educational and community engagement. The Amarillo Symphony is the only professional orchestra in the Texas Panhandle and offers an array of successful youth educational programs in addition to regularly scheduled concerts.

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