As I was thinking about which article (or series of articles) to spotlight in my Editor’s Choice, I thought of Ron Bauers and all that he did for orchestras in his role as a financial analyst and an avid musician/AFM member. And then I saw that Ray Ricker has also selected a financial article to spotlight this month. I guess tax season will urge one to ponder finances, both personal and those of our orchestras.
Ron Bauers started attending orchestra conferences when the ROPA conference was in Omaha, his home town, in the early 1990s. He began offering his services to orchestra musicians, to help them understand their orchestra’s financial statements, and in 1992, he worked out a relationship with the AFM where locals could obtain his services for a fraction of what it would cost to bring in a CPA consultant, with the AFM splitting his fee with the local. I know he analyzed the Hartford Symphony’s finances at least twice, to our great advantage. In fact, both management and musicians were pleased to pore over his analysis, and heed his warnings of where we were not on firm footing.
Sadly for all who knew him, Ron passed away in January 2009. Robert Levine, Principal Violist in Milwaukee and a Senior Editor here at Polyphonic, wrote a moving tribute to Ron and the work he did for orchestras that you can read here.
Before he passed on, Ron began a series of articles for Polyphonic, instructing orchestra musicians in the details of non-profit finance. For those of us who serve on orchestra committees and who are members of our Boards, understanding audits, monthly financials, cash flow budgets, endowments, 990s, etc., is critical to having an informed conversation with management about the financial health of the organization, both during negotiations and while keeping tabs on things between negotiations.
Ron’s articles are definitely written by a CPA, but they offer a wealth of valuable information. And they were written by a CPA who truly loved music and the union.