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Founding Members:
Association of Performing Arts Presenters
Dance/USA | League of American Orchestras
OPERA America | Theatre Communications Group

Alternate ROOTS | American Composers Forum
Chamber Music America | Chorus America
Fractured Atlas | National Alliance for Musical Theatre
National Association of Latino Arts and Culture
National Performance Network
Network of Ensemble Theaters | New Music USA

Performing Arts Alliance
About Us

Orchestras in America

Orchestras Make A Difference in Every Community...How many communities and people are involved with orchestras?

Orchestras exist in all 50 states, in virtually every community. We estimate that there are approximately 1,800 orchestras in the United States, with annual budgets ranging from less than $12,000 to more than $83 million.

350-400 professional orchestras, which means they have paid musicians
800-900 volunteer orchestras
150-200 collegiate/conservatory orchestras
400-500 youth orchestras

More than half a million individuals are involved in orchestras, including conductors, staff, board members, musicians, and volunteers. And that’s not even counting millions of people in the audience!Who goes to orchestra concerts?What is the financial structure of orchestras?

Orchestral activity is supported by an important combination of public and private support – and every piece is critical. Orchestras are not supported by ticket sales alone. As members of the nonprofit charitable community, orchestras depend upon private philanthropy and civic support.

Private contributions 39%
Concert Income 33%
Endowment 15%
Other Earned Income 8%
Government Grants 5%


Orchestra revenue totaled $1.86 billion in 2006-07. Their economic impact exceeds several times that amount as orchestras create jobs, engage in commerce with local businesses, and spur local expenditures on related goods and services (hotels, restaurants, parking facilities, and more).Orchestras are a Vital Part of America’s Musical Landscape and Civic Life...Why does a community support its orchestra?

  • Improves the quality of life
  • Promotes understanding of other culturesOrchestras are essential and active partners in increasing access to lifelong music education, improving the quality of life in their communities by collaborating with school systems and other local partners to deliver a wide array of education and community programs. Orchestras now offer nearly 18,000 education concerts, more than 2,000 community engagement concerts, and more than 40 kinds of programs, including:
  • Fosters pride in the community
  • Contributes to the education and development of children

What role do orchestras play in music education and community engagement?

  • Pre-school programs
  • In-depth, multi-year community residencies
  • Long-term partnerships with schools
  • Instrumental instruction
  • Educational classes for seniors
  • Programs in libraries and hospitals

How can children reap even more of the benefits of music education?

Music education is an indispensable part of life-long learning, and participation in music programs prepares students to succeed in school, work, and life. That’s why the great majority of orchestras engage in advocacy on behalf of in-school music education in their communities. Also, kids “play their part” by joining an orchestra. Being part of an orchestra encourages children to develop their talents and to experience teamwork, self-discipline, and individual expression. There are nearly 500 youth orchestras across America. New orchestras are created each year to help meet the growing demand for music education and positive activities for young people. These orchestras involve more than 50,000 young musicians in the joy of music making and all its ancillary benefits.


Leadership, Service, and Advocacy for America’s Orchestras

Orchestras are an important part of the community fabric. Communities with orchestras attract volunteers, voters, philanthropists and other active, civic-minded participants, and the presence of an orchestra can be an indicator of a community’s economic development. From a survey of 800 random households in 10 American cities: The vast majority of citizens believe that the presence of live, professional performing arts in the community...Orchestras add value and meaning to American life by fostering the creativity of musicians and engaging the public in the extraordinary experience of orchestral performance on and off the concert stage.More people (and younger) than you realized! In the 2006-07 season, they played to an audience of just over 29 million attendees nationwide. At traditional classical subscription concerts, half of the audience has been 55 or younger for the last several decades. The total number of concerts performed has risen by 16% in the last decade. In 2006-07 America’s orchestras performed more than 37,000 concerts.

16,014 Education
7,690 Classical
2,210 Pops
2,774 Community Engagement
2,123 Chamber/Ensemble
6,358 Other Concerts (including choral, opera, ballet, summer, family, and festival events)

America is brimming with extraordinary musicians, live concerts, and orchestras as unique as the communities they serve. Orchestral music making is alive and well in our country,offering significant artistic, social, and economic contributions at the local, national, and international levels.

The mission of the League of American Orchestras is to lead, encourage, support, and serve orchestras as they assure the vitality of the musical experience, strengthen the entire orchestral organization, and deepen their connections with their public and their communities. Founded in 1942, the League serves nearly 1,000 member symphony, chamber, youth, and university orchestras of all sizes, and supports a network of thousands of administrators, board members, musicians, conductors, volunteers, and business partners.

Updated August 6, 2009