After years of symphony lockouts, tight budgets and bad press, it has finally been a good year for Atlanta's dominant arts organization in 2016. The Woodruff Arts Center is home to the High Museum, the Alliance Theatre and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Last year, the ASO opened its season with a performance of Mahler's "Resurrection Symphony," but now, resurrection might be a better theme for the Woodruff Arts Center.
In 2012, the center was still recovering from the Great Recession. The Woodruff board locked out the symphony and demanded a reduction in the players' salaries and even the size of the orchestra. Two years later, it locked them out again. It wanted to shrink the symphony even more.
Since then, the center has been under pressure to stabilize its finances. This year – it did that. It secured $25 million in endowment funds to keep the orchestra at 88 players permanently.
"This is obviously a huge, huge way point,” ASO Executive Director Jennifer Barlament told WABE after that announcement in October. “We've hit a significant milestone in the ongoing journey toward long-term sustainability and vitality of the institution.”
The Woodruff Arts Center went on to conclude its overall endowment campaign early and with an extra $10 million. The Alliance Theatre's main stage will get Coca-Cola's name as part of that deal.
Woodruff CEO Virginia Hepner says she will step down this May. She came in during the first lockout. Now, she leaves the center on a high note.