Helping the symphony play in Penticton
Helping the symphony play in Penticton

Helping the symphony play in Penticton

An Okanagan Symphony concert is entertaining but the cost to host such an event may surprise some.  

“When we get a concert down here (Penticton) it depends how large the orchestra is and if its got a guest artist,” said Donna Schellenberg, whose ties to the symphony date back more than 50 years. “It can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $70,000 per concert. Of course that takes into consideration all of the staff work that’s done ahead of time to get the music and pay the bills and what have you so it’s all inclusive—it’s a huge chunk of change.” 

To assist with these costs, the Harold & Donna Schellenberg Legacy Fund established through the Community Foundation of the Okanagan Similkameen provides financial help to the Penticton branch of the Okanagan Symphony.  

Donna noted that ticket sales for these events account for a third of the Okanagan Symphony’s overall budget so the Schellenberg’s fund – which was started in 2008 – is essential to ensuring a successful concert.  

She said like another of the fund holders, she and Harold are at an age where, rather than receive a gift from family members during a special occasion, they’re encouraging donations towards their fund instead.  

After five decades of being involved with the Okanagan Symphony, Donna has been a part of most areas of the organization.   

“At first it was just going to a concert and then it was helping make sandwiches, that kind of stuff,” she said. “Then I got involved in the local committee. From there it was to committee head, subscription membership is one of the biggest committees.” 

More recently Donna heads a committee that established a newer public fund through the Community Foundation titled, Okanagan Symphony Penticton Branch Fund, to which anyone can make a donation.  

“A lot of people have donated to it,” she said. “Anything from $25 in memorial to $5,000. We’ve had people donate over $5,000.” 

She admitted that prior to 2008 when they started their family fund  her knowledge of the Community Foundation was limited.  

“I didn’t know an awful lot about it. I had to learn about it.”  

One of the designations associated with funds established through the Foundation is that the fund holder can be specific in deciding where the money goes and how it is used. 

“We wanted to make sure that there was something that was ongoing so that the symphony would get some kind of a return every year,” said Donna. “Instead of trying to have a fundraiser every year and not knowing whether it’s going to work or not, this is for sure, it’s for certain.” 

She also noted that the Federal Endowment Incentives Program in which any donations made to the Okanagan Symphony fund through a Community Foundation were given matching grants by the government.  

“It’s to try to make the symphony sustainable because it costs so incredibly much money,” she said.  

Donna said she appreciates anyone wishing to make a donation to assist the symphony now and in the coming years.  

“I would sure encourage anybody who would like to see the symphony continue to give to the Okanagan Symphony Penticton Branch Fund,” she said.