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DAYTON, OH – The Dayton region’s largest and oldest performing arts organization, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra (DPO), has announced a special fundraising campaign called Protect & Secure.

Its objective is to support the Orchestra during the current times of unusual economic challenge and accelerated innovation. The campaign goal is $1.4 million and it is Co-Chaired by beloved Dayton arts benefactors Leon & Betsy Whitney. Longtime DPO friends Robert and Barbara O’Hara and the Dayton Philharmonic Volunteer Association donated the first critical lead gifts. The campaign total stands at $1,018,891 as of March 17, 2011.

The quiet phase of the campaign commenced in June 2009, with the public phase announced at last weekend’s classical concerts (“Russian Giants” featuring the music of Borodin, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky) at the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center in Dayton, Ohio.

At those concerts, DPO Music Director Neal Gittleman and Mr. and Mrs. Whitney unveiled news regarding the Charles D. Berry Challenge. Retired Berry Company executive and noted Dayton arts philanthropist, Charles Berry, has committed to match every dollar given until the $1.4 million goal has been reached.

“We thank Chuck for this incredible boost to this important campaign, and want to give special notice to all the nose-to-the-grindstone, behind-the-scenes work by our good friends, the Whitney’s,” observes Neal Gittleman, DPO Music Director. “We have excellent momentum and now we’ll be looking to DPO fans and supporters from the region, and nationally, to put us over the top,” adds DPO President, Paul Helfrich.

After the scope of the 2008 financial crisis had become apparent, DPO President, Paul Helfrich, and Board Chair, Wendy Campbell, convened a group of seasoned regional business leaders plus the DPO’s President, Music Director, Trustees and an Orchestra Player’s Committee representative to assess the organization’s response. The group, dubbed the Business Model Review Group (BMRG), responded quickly, generating a group of recommendations to be implemented in a fast-track process. The fundamental changes ran the gamut from implementing several new series, dropping less-effective programming, trimming overhead (such as salaries), and launching the Protect & Secure Campaign.

The campaign donations are crucially needed to help the Dayton Philharmonic through three years of rapid change and to emerge in the 2012–2013 season with a budget that will balance without any special one-time, non-repeatable assistance.

The 2011-2012 DPO Season, “The Originals,” unveiled at the annual New Year’s Eve concert on December 31st 2010, is possibly the earliest next-season launch of any American orchestra. That season will see the DPO field a schedule of 50 concert dates, a range of free community concerts and a robust Education Program serving 50,000 school children in 13 counties. Says DPO Marketing Director, Dave Bukvic; “We re-thought our series lineup with a fresh eye toward a wider variety of music genres, enhanced presentation, new subscription package types and a revolutionary approach aimed at pulling in new audiences.” As a result, the 2010-2011 Season subscriptions grew by 2.5%, with another increase of the same size showing in the early results for the 2011-2012 Season.

“Some important components of this process were understanding the changing needs of the community, keeping everyone informed, working well with the musician’s union and taking well-considered, measured steps,” reports Board Chair, Wendy Campbell. “We are so fortunate to have such incredible music here on our stage,” said Campaign Co-Chair Lee Whitney at the campaign announcement on Friday, March 11th.

“We want to thank the musicians of the Orchestra for inspiring all of us.”

Donors are encouraged to send contributions to: Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Performance Place at the Schuster Center  |  109 North Main Street, Suite 200  |  Dayton, Ohio 45402 or donate online here.