Into the Shark Tank

I can’t get enough of ABC’s Shark Tank. Every week, a new group of entrepreneurs has roughly ten minutes to convince five self-made, multi-millionaires to invest in their businesses. No pressure there, right? Well, that got me thinking. What if I asked the Sharks to fund the Phil? Hmmm. Maybe? Probably not. Although it would definitely be worth a shot, I’m pretty sure my pitch would not cause a feeding frenzy among America’s most ruthless investors.

KIM: Hi, I’m Kim Corben. I’m seeking $530,000 to produce the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra’s upcoming concert season.
SHARK 1: Do you have proof of concept?
KIM: Well, we’ve been bringing music to the community for over a hundred years, so we’re pretty sure it’s a good idea.
SHARK 2: What are your projected sales for the year?
KIM: Ticket sales will be about $325,000.
SHARK 3: What do you hope to clear from that?
KIM: Nothing. Ticket sales only cover musician and production costs.
SHARK 3: So, you’re in the red every year.
KIM: Yup. Every year.
SHARK 4: Raise ticket prices.
KIM: Can’t. We want to keep the arts accessible to everyone.
SHARK 5: Cut expenses. Do you really need all those musicians?
KIM: Yes. We really do. It’s an orchestra. Not a quartet.
SHARK 2: How are you going to make up the difference?
KIM: From investors. That’s why I’m here. In the Tank.
SHARK 1: What percentage of equity are you willing to give me?
KIM: None. The Phil belongs to the community.
SHARK 1: So, how do I get my money back?
KIM: You don’t.
SHARK 1: I don’t make any money?
KIM: No, you make people happy.
SHARK 1: I’m not in the business of making people happy.
KIM: Really? It’s all we do.

When you put it like this, our funding scenario does sound a bit out-there. And, I don’t mind telling you that when I ask you to not only purchase tickets but to collectively invest an additional $530,000 every season, it’s more than a little nerve-wracking – especially at the start of the season when we’re the furthest from our goal. But, I also don’t mind telling you this: This is how successful, nonprofit, professional orchestras work. Our ticket sales are strong. We are an excellent steward of our resources. Sixty-percent of our operating budget goes directly to paying our musicians and producing phenomenal concert experiences. And, without a shadow of a doubt, the Phil brings the best live entertainment to the South Shore community. Every year. We also bring incredible and innovative musical opportunities for children. Period.

Thank goodness, we don’t need to rely on Sharks. You get it. Intuitively. Without explanation. (With just a gentle reminder, or two). You are one of our investors because music matters. It’s something you can’t live without; it’s something you want everyone in our community to share. 

So, c’mon. Let’s make some music together. Please renew your previous gift to the Phil this season or become a first-time investor in this extraordinary organization!

I’ll touch base with you frequently throughout the year to share more thoughts and show you how your support impacts the community in ways you may not have known. I also want to hear what’s on your mind. So, catch me after a concert.  Meet me at a soirée. Send me an email. I’m easy to find… just a phone call away.

Kim Corben
Executive Director