(NEWARK, NJ) -- Due to the crippling financial and operational impact of COVID-19, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has made the difficult decision to implement significant administrative staff layoffs, as of September 11. The layoffs are part of an overall effort to sustain the organization’s challenged financial position through the ongoing pandemic, and to position it for a brighter future.
In spite of these changes, the NJSO will continue in its mission to serve the people of New Jersey through its existing digital initiatives such as NJSO at Home, virtual educational services for the diverse communities of the state and other concert experiences. More announcements regarding new online content are forthcoming.
“Unfortunately, the NJSO has had to make the heartbreaking decision to significantly reduce its workforce due to a $3.4 million loss of revenue associated with COVID-19 concert cancellations, and additional ongoing revenue uncertainty,” NJSO President & CEO Gabriel van Aalst says. “I am extremely grateful for the level of dedication and the many contributions our administrative staff has provided. We are confident that our reduced staff will continue to work together to serve the diverse communities of New Jersey.”
The NJSO will eliminate 12 positions within its administrative staff, across departments and management hierarchy, with additional employees on periodic furlough as finances and operation may prescribe. Decisions regarding NJSO layoffs and furloughs have been carefully made through multifaceted scenario planning to see the institution through this global pandemic and beyond.
Van Aalst says: “We are determined to see that the NJSO not only survives the imposing financial challenges but also redefines who we are as an institution post-pandemic. Reducing our workforce is a heavy decision, but one our financial reality could no longer avoid. We need to double down on our commitment to being fiscally responsible but also continue on in our mission.”
The NJSO will continue to monitor all recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of New Jersey with regard to COVID-19 pandemic. A series of announcements in response to the pandemic have been made since public concerts and events ceased starting in March 2020.
Named “a vital, artistically significant musical organization” by The Wall Street Journal, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra embodies that vitality through its statewide presence and critically acclaimed performances, education partnerships and unparalleled access to music and the Orchestra’s superb musicians.
Music Director Xian Zhang—a “dynamic podium presence” The New York Times has praised for her “technical abilities, musicianship and maturity”—continues her acclaimed leadership of the NJSO. The Orchestra presents classical, pops and family programs, as well as outdoor summer concerts and special events. Embracing its legacy as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO is the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and regularly performs at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick, Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown and bergenPAC in Englewood. Partnerships with New Jersey arts organizations, universities and civic organizations remain a key element of the Orchestra’s statewide identity.
In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the NJSO presents a suite of education and community engagement programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music. Programs include school-time Concerts for Young People and the NJSO Youth Orchestras family of student ensembles, led by José Luis Domínguez. NJSO musicians annually perform original chamber music programs at community events in a variety of settings statewide through the NJSO Community Partners program.