Dear Friend of the Arts,

In recent years, the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet have engaged in ambitious collaborations and reached new artistic heights. Today, we mark another milestone.

We are excited to announce a strategic merger of our historic organizations. Together, we will form the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA). This new non-profit will serve as the home for our musicians, dancers, students, teachers, staff, trustees, artistic teams, and you—our friends and supporters.

It is important to seize opportunities and undertake major steps in times of strength. For us, this is a merger built through careful considerations of its impact upon stakeholders, a genuine, mutual respect for one another, and a common dream for a thriving performing arts community. As we move forward, we pledge our continued commitment to artistic excellence and look forward to what we can achieve together.

TAPA will celebrate the heritage and accomplishments of the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet and lay critical groundwork for the future. For 70 years, our organizations have successfully collaborated on various productions, from classics like The Nutcracker and Rite of Spring to brilliant new productions like Heart to Quill and Kodaly’s Ballet Music. In recent years, we began to recognize the possibilities available in closer collaboration. This merger promises great alignment of our individual strengths and opens up opportunities to create new and invigorating programs for you.

The possibilities are not limited to performances on stage. This partnership also allows us to explore the benefits of integrated arts through our shared educational missions. Our combined educational programs currently provide music and dance instruction to more than 700 students each year. Together, we can offer cross-curricular instruction to the region that supports and reinforces each art form.

On the backend, this merger also provides cost and revenue synergies in our operations—the behind-the-scenes work that you seldom see but that is critical to the sustainability of our work in the community. Through TAPA, we can leverage the expertise of each organization and use our dollars more effectively to provide even more for you.

It’s an exciting time for the performing arts in Toledo, and I invite you to experience this historic moment with us. This weekend, on September 21st and 22nd, the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet will join forces to perform selections from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake at the Peristyle. It will mark one of our most ambitious partnerships yet and set the stage for triumphs to come. We hope to see you there.

Yours in the arts,

Zak Vassar
President & CEO




Frequently Asked Questions

Q.: What does TAPA stand for?

A.: TAPA stands for the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts.

Q.: Who is part of TAPA?

A.: TAPA is a merger between the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet.

Q.: Why does this make sense?

A.: Four key reasons:

  1. History: The Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet are the city’s two oldest performing arts organizations. They have a positive history of collaboration, dating back to the 1940s.
  2. Efficiency: By joining forces, the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet are able to operate more efficiently. These organizations don’t each need a ticket office, for example. By optimizing the back-office operations of these organizations, they can maximize their art forms.
  3. Education: The Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet share educational missions. Between the Toledo Symphony School of Music, Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestras, and Toledo Ballet School, the organizations provide instruction and training to over 700 area students. By consolidating these educational initiatives into a single organization, it creates a school of music and dance that is unprecedented in the area.
  4. Programming: Many opportunities exist to create multi-sensory programming that explores the intersection of music and dance through traditional and new ways.

Q.: Why merge now?

A.: These kinds of strategic relationships are strongest when the constituent organizations want to merger rather than need to merge. The Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet have both recorded strong gains in audience development, revenues, and fundraising. Both organizations face some challenges—like most non-profits—but both are generally considered to be healthy and well-funded. The organizations have worked together so successfully for so long, and both desire an opportunity to create something larger than the sum of its parts. They establish TAPA as a way to commit to providing the finest performing arts in the region.

Q.: Has this kind of merger happened before?

A.: Yes, the Chattanooga Symphony and Chattanooga Opera merged in 1985, marking the first performing arts merger in the USA. The Utah Symphony and Utah Opera followed in a 2002 merger. In 2012, the Dayton Philharmonic, Dayton Opera, and Dayton Ballet merged to create the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance. The Sacramento Philharmonic and Sacramento Opera merged in 2013. These collaborations are generally deemed to be successful, especially when the organizations have a good history of working well together.

Q.: How long as a merger been in consideration?

A.: The Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet have been working closely for a year to negotiate this merger. The staff, artistic leadership, and trustees of each organization developed a positive rapport and established trust through this process. Thanks to a grant from the Toledo Community Foundation, the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet were able to seek the professional services of La Piana, a California-based consultancy that specializes in the creation of non-profit mergers.

Q.: What kind of scrutiny went into this merger?

A.: The organizations have reviewed one another’s historical records, legal commitments, and financial statements carefully and have a clear and comprehensive picture of the opportunities and challenges each faces. Officers from the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet boards of trustees were intimately engaged at all points of the merger discussions and negotiations.

Q.: Who will lead TAPA?

A.: Zak Vassar will serve as President & CEO of the new organization. The Toledo Symphony’s board chair, Pam Hershberger, will chair the combined boards. All Toledo Symphony officers will lead the new organization. All trustees of the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet will become trustees of TAPA. Three Toledo Ballet trustees will join approximately 12 Toledo Symphony trustees on TAPA’s Executive Committee.

Q.: Does the Toledo Symphony just go away?

A.: No, the Toledo Symphony will continue as a TAPA program. Likewise, its youth orchestras and School of Music will continue business as usual.

Q.: Does the Toledo Ballet just go away?

A.: No, the Toledo Ballet will continue as a TAPA program. Likewise, its school and company will continue business as usual.

Q.: Will anyone lose their job because of this merger?

A.: All Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet staff, teachers, and orchestra musicians will join TAPA. Existing vacancies will be eliminated.

Q.: What can we expect to see from the combined organization?

A.: The Toledo Symphony will incorporate more choreography into its programming, including annual dance performance(s) on its Masterworks Series. Most Toledo Ballet performances will feature Toledo Symphony musicians.

Q.: When will the first combined performances be?

A.: As it happens, the Toledo Symphony invited the Toledo Ballet to join in its presentation of Swan Lake on September 21 & 22, 2018 at the TMA Peristyle. It will represent one of the largest collaborations yet between the two organizations. This concert was devised over a year ago, long before the merger talks began. It just so happens that the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet were able to announce the merger just days before this symbolic first performance. The two organizations will also present the Nutcracker on December 8 & 9, 2018 at the Stranahan Theater.

Q.: Will the Symphony and Ballet always appear on one another’s performances?

A.: No. The Ballet will dance only on certain Symphony programs. The Symphony will provide live music for many/most of the Ballet productions.

Q.: How can people find more information about TAPA?

A.: People can learn more about TAPA by visiting

Q.: How do I get tickets for performances?

A.: By visiting, calling 419.246.8000, or visiting the box office located at the Professional Building, 1838 Parkwood Avenue, in advance. Tickets may also be purchased at the venues on the day of the performance. will redirect to