ISO has a big wish list this Christmas

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The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has a big wish list this Christmas.

To remain a full-time orchestra, it needs to raise $5 million in new pledges by February 3, 2013.

"If we do not reach that by Feb. 3rd, there will not be a sustainable future for our symphony in this community," board president Martha Lamkin said.

The need stems from ongoing financial issues that came to a head during a contract dispute between the symphony and its musicians this fall. Management said it could no longer afford the previous contracts.

Unable to reach a new agreement, it locked out the musicians, who began performing in front of the Hilbert as a way to protest. The five-week stalemate ended after the symphony cut its administrative staff and the musicians made monetary concessions.

Both sides also agreed if they didn't raise $5 million by February third, they would have to return to bargaining table.

With five weeks to go, the ISO still has more than $2.5 million to raise. It's begun an aggressive campaign, running ads on TV, radio and in the newspaper trying to reach people beyond its core audience.

"We're opening it up saying if you want a symphony here in five years this is what it's going to take," said Lamkni.

So far, Colts owner Jim Irsay, Pacers owner Herb Simon and ISO board member Yvonne Shaheen have contributed most of the $2.35 money raised.

But Lamkin stresses no donation is too small.

"A dollar, 50 cents, $5, it's whatever people can afford," she said.

If the symphony raises the $5 million, the Lilly Endowment has pledged an additional $2 million to cover theater improvements and outreach.