Canada’s Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Files For Bankruptcy


Formed in 1945, Canada’s Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra Association (KWS) has filed for bankruptcy after 78 seasons. The orchestra had annually performed 222 concerts to audiences of over 90,000.

With the resignation of its board of directors, the organization has ceased all operations, citing “an unprecedented rise in costs following the global pandemic,” as the reason for bankruptcy.

Days prior to the announcement, KWS had stated it would require around $2 million in funding to reboot its 2023/24 season.

“We are absolutely devastated about this outcome,” said KWS board chair Rachel Smith-Spencer in the press release. “In the last three days, we have appealed to all of our major stakeholders and have exhausted all available avenues to secure the $2M required immediately to continue operations.”

“The $2-million that was stated in those requests for dollars that would have saved the season but not the organization itself,” said licensed insolvency trustee with BDO Canada, Mike Braga in CityNews.

“Certainly, the $2-million would have allowed them to put on the season but it wouldn’t deal with the underlying causes which is the financial pressures that the symphony sees in light of the reduction in terms of ticket sales,” he said.

To support those impacted by the insolvency, the Waterloo Region community and KWS musicians have organized a “Support your KWSymphony Musicians” fundraiser via a GoFundMe page, which has received $368,341 CAD from over 2,000 donations, to date. 

Additionally, the KW Symphony Foundation an independent body managing long-term investments that have been donated over many years to support classical music — will continue to operate. Donations to the Foundation can be made through Canada Helps.

“We are completely heartbroken by the news…that the symphony has declared bankruptcy,” the musicians wrote. “However, we are so grateful for the all around the country in the past few days. Our work isn’t done – we will continue to make music in the community and explore all options available to us to keep our orchestra alive…Please continue to donate to all of these musicians whose jobs could not be saved.

“For everybody who has offered words of support in the crisis, we wholeheartedly appreciate it,” they continued. “Knowing that musicians and music lovers across the Region, the country and world care so deeply about the musicians of the KWS has truly been an inspiration. Wherever this journey leads, we hope you will stay with us. We are still here and we will keep making music for you.”

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