The Warren Philharmonic Orchestra's 2012-13 season is set, but the orchestra and its supporters are looking well beyond this season.
Two different projects are in the early stages to secure the orchestra's place in the Mahoning Valley and to develop the next generation of classical musicians and fans.
Created to help raise money for the orchestra is the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra Foundation.
Rosemary Rosenberg, president of the foundation and a board member for the orchestra, said, ''One of the things that came to light when I joined the board two years ago was there is no foundation put in place to support the orchestra. My husband, attorney Michael Rosenberg, works strictly with transactional and business law, and he's done a number of trusts and setting up charitable foundations. He and I talked about the fact that if we could establish a foundation for the philharmonic, hopefully it would help ease the financial problems that occur every year when they try to raise funds.''
Like many arts and cultural institutions, ticket sales cover only a fraction of the operating expenses for the orchestra, which is celebrating its 47th season. Many arts organizations are subsidized through foundations, where the interest collected from the foundation's endowment is used to help cover those annual costs.
The foundation was established last December, a five-member board was selected and last spring the foundation decided to partner with the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.
''One thing that does is take the administrative burden off of our board,'' Rosenberg said. ''This allows us to use the combined investment vehicles they have as well as they handle all of the accounting and auditing ... They are helping to cut our costs, and they have a good track record in this rough economy for getting a return on their investments.''
Information about the foundation will be available at Sunday's concert, Rosenberg said, but she doesn't expect a major push until 2013. Donors will have the opportunity to endow specific positions in the orchestra, like the first violin chair, and contributors will recognized in the orchestra's program and in other ways.
At one time, the orchestra played four concerts annually. The 2012-13 season features only two concerts. The orchestra's musicians and Conductor Susan Davenny Wyner also took a 10 percent pay cut two seasons ago to keep the orchestra solvent. Part of those cuts were restored this year.
''The goal of the foundation will be to make sure we can pay the musicians appropriately, and the main goal is to bring back a third concert and perhaps even a fourth (each year),'' Rosenberg said. ''There is no way that is going to happen without the foundation.''
Frank Bodor, president of the orchestra's board, said. ''We are very grateful this foundation was created, and we look forward to working with it.''
Bodor and Wyner also are working on a project to get stringed instrument instruction back in Warren City Schools. Strings of Joy would provide free use of string instruments to middle school children and weekly after-school instruction.
''Over the years, there has been a big stress for band instruments and marching bands, but somehow string instruments have disappeared,'' he said. ''We felt there could be students who would love to have the instruments in their hands, but either they haven't been introduced to it or can't afford it.''
The program has several potential benefits. Studies have shown that students who participate in music programs do better on their SAT tests and are less inclined to experiment with drugs and alcohol, Bodor said. Exposure to classical music and string instruments at young age could inspire those children to pursue a career in music or at least play as an avocation. It also could expand the potential audience for the Warren Philharmonic Orchestra.
''The lack of string instruments in the schools, if they'd continued with the music program over the years, I think we'd have more people interested in classical music today,'' Bodor said. ''It involves the whole family. As the student learns, they become more familiar with it, and it just spreads the word among members of their family and the community.''
Once the details are finalized, the orchestra plans to solicit donations of used instruments or for financial contributions which would be used to pay for used instruments for students.
''We know it works,'' Bodor said. ''It's just a question of getting it started.''