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MUSIC AMID THE MELTDOWN

Like managers in every field, Florida Orchestra president Michael Pastreich is trying to gauge the impact of the troubled economy on his business. "At this point we don't know what effect it's going to have,'' he said in early October.

In a way, the orchestra is used to hard times. Last season, it cut more than $1-million from the budget. It also paid off about $550,000 in debt.

"The orchestra has an advantage through this because we already started to look very seriously at how do we maximize our resources, how do we make sure we're spending money as effectively as possible, and what should we not be doing,'' Pastreich said. "Since we went through this discussion so much last season, it feels like we're ahead of the curve.''

Still, some fundraising problems are in the pipeline. "We know that corporate sponsorship is taking a hit,'' Pastreich said. "We know that government funds are taking a hit. I would predict that our phone and mail campaigns will probably show a decrease.''

The orchestra hopes to make up for those declines through gifts from individual donors. "I would predict that upper-end giving will increase,'' he said.

Subscription sales are lagging a bit: There are 5,652 subscribers to the masterworks, pops and coffee series, compared with 6,279 last season. Subscriptions to the morning coffee series are up, while masterworks and pops are down.

Marketing director Sherry Powell said the subscription sales campaign continues. "We expect to close the gap between where we are so far this year and our overall goal'' by promoting a "choose your own series'' in which a subscriber may buy tickets from all the series, she said.

Pastreich, who came to the orchestra a year ago from Elgin, Ill., is taking an entrepreneurial approach to the lagging economy. "I'm actually looking forward to being part of figuring out how to step up to the challenge,'' he said.

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