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Indy symphony in fundraising frenzy

– The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra could fall short of the millions it says it needs to fulfill a contract it negotiated with musicians after a five-week lockout last fall.

The symphony reported Tuesday that it had raised $3.2 million of the $5 million it set as a fundraising goal. That raises the possibility the group could have to reopen negotiations with its musicians, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal.

Under a deal between the symphony and musicians, a five-year contract is to kick in if the symphony raises $5 million during a three-month campaign that is scheduled to end Feb. 3. The $5 million target is almost as much as the symphony raises in a typical year.

“We’re going to need a lot of hard effort to get there,” said Martha Lamkin, president of the ISO board.

Lamkin expressed confidence the symphony would reach the goal. The symphony is still processing hundreds of contributions, and the organization has not included a $500,000 matching donation in the total, she said.

If the group falls short of the goal, negotiators could be forced to reopen contract talks. Another option allows symphony officials to lower the goal if they are comfortable with what they’ve raised, said Rick Graef, lead negotiator for the American Federation of Musicians Local 3 union, which represents more than 70 symphony musicians.

The lockout began in September after contracts expired and ISO officials told the union they couldn’t afford to continue paying musicians at their current rates.

The five-year agreement calls for cutting starting pay from $78,000 a year to $53,000, then gradually restoring it to $70,000 by 2017.

The symphony has struggled under years of operating deficits. It lost $900,000 in the fiscal year that ended in August, down from a $1.7 million deficit the year before. The symphony typically raises about $6.5 million a year but wants to increase that amount to $12.6 million by 2017.

Swaney said he has never seen a campaign like the symphony’s three-month blitz.

The ISO says it is focusing on new donors to broaden its financial support. Board members, managers and musicians have been tapping contacts for large donations.

Colts owner Jim Irsay and Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon each committed $750,000 to the new effort.

Graef, a French horn player, said he hopes the symphony reaches its goal.

“I hope they have more money up their sleeve,” he said. “If we don’t make it, I have a feeling they don’t want to go back to locking us out.”