Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

500-833 Seymour Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 0G4
President & CEO: Angela Elster
Board Chair: Etienne Bruson

Charitable Reg. #:11928 2283 RR0001


Ci's Star Rating is calculated based on the following independent metrics:

[Charity Rating: 2/5]


Audited financial statements available only upon request.



Grade based on the charity's public reporting of the work it does and the results it achieves.



The demonstrated impact per dollar Ci calculates from available program information.


Charity's cash and investments (funding reserves) relative to how much it spends on programs in most recent year.



For a dollar donated, after overhead costs of fundraising and admin/management (excluding surplus) 77 cents are available for programs.

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About Vancouver Symphony Orchestra:

Founded in 1919, Vancouver Symphony Society, better known as Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO), works to enrich and transform lives through music. It delivers high-quality musical performances, creating meaningful audience engagement, and runs educational community programs. VSO is the third largest symphony in Canada.  

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performs 150 concerts each year. In its 2019-2020 season, 300,000 people attended their online concerts. Typically, 250,000 people attend each season, and 40,000 people attend their free community concerts.  

Music education and outreach are important to VSO. Each year, VSO performs 12 concerts for public elementary schools with a total attendance of 25,000 students. In 2018, it visited 53 public schools as part of its VSO connects program. It also hosts 16 Tiny Tots concerts for children aged 5 and younger, and 5 Kids’ Koncerts for children aged 4 to 11. It has five open rehearsals each year, which are attended by high school and post-secondary students.   

The charity also runs VSO Institute in Whistler, BC where orchestra members mentor young musicians.   

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Ci consolidated Vancouver Symphony Society with Vancouver Symphony Foundation (VSF) in the following financial analysis. Ci used the Foundation’s T3010 CRA filings for revenue, expense, and asset figures because its audited financial statements were not provided. 

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra received donations and special events fundraising of $6.8m in F2020. Administrative costs are 9% of revenues and fundraising costs are 15% of cash donations and special events. This means that total overhead spending is 23%. For each dollar donated to VSO, $0.77 goes towards its programs, which falls within Ci’s reasonable range for overhead spending. VSO has a program cost coverage of 343%, meaning that its funding reserves of $40.3m can cover its annual program costs for 3.4 years. 

Vancouver Symphony Foundation had $28.8m in unused property in F2020 and spent $736k on grants to the orchestra and other charitable activities. This means the foundation had a payout rate of 2.6% in F2020. 

This charity report is an update that is currently being reviewed by Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Comments and edits may be forthcoming. 

Updated on June 1, 2021 by Asha McMullin. 

Financial Review

Financial Ratios

Fiscal year ending June
Administrative costs as % of revenues 8.6%6.1%6.2%
Fundraising costs as % of donations 14.6%16.0%19.6%
Total overhead spending 23.1%22.1%25.8%
Program cost coverage (%) 342.6%282.3%248.7%

Summary Financial Statements

All figures in $000s
Donations 5,9697,3666,129
Goods in kind 1,0271,5721,789
Government funding 5,3476,2584,606
Fees for service 5,5587,1657,399
Lotteries (net) 211380455
Special events 7851,0641,024
Investment income 1,8731,276989
Total revenues 20,76925,08122,391
Program costs 11,76913,98213,244
Donated goods exp 1,0271,5721,789
Administrative costs 1,6161,4601,327
Fundraising costs 9841,3451,405
Total spending 15,39618,36017,766
Cash flow from operations 5,3726,7224,626
Capital spending 719296461
Funding reserves 40,32339,47732,936

Note: Ci did not report fund transfers between the VSO and VSF when consolidating. Ci adjusted for amortization and changes in deferred capital contributions to report on a cash basis, affecting revenues by $1.8m in F2020, $72k in F2019, and $155k in F2018. Ci could not report lottery revenue on a net basis as lottery costs were not disclosed. Ci removed depreciation from administrative costs to report on a cash basis. 

Salary Information

Full-time staff: 35

Avg. compensation: $70,673

Top 10 staff salary range:

$350k +
$300k - $350k
$250k - $300k
$200k - $250k
$160k - $200k
$120k - $160k
$80k - $120k
$40k - $80k
< $40k

Information from most recent CRA Charities Directorate filings for F2020

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Comments & Contact

Comments added by the Charity:

No comments have been added by the charity.

Charity Contact

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: 604.684.9100


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Charitable Registration Number: 80340 7956 RR0001