Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lack of funding brings bad tidings

One thing that struck me in Levine's reading was the importance of funding, and the various means through which some of our more prominent orchestras were able to find solid footing. However, what about our smaller, regional orchestras?

I am a native of Cleveland, whose orchestra is of course well and prospering, in part part due to its endowment. However, I lived in Columbus for five years before coming to Boston, and the same unfortunately cannot be said for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Having been to Columbus recently, I heard that the orchestra had completely shut down. I looked into this, and found it to be incorrect, but was alarmed to find that it had cancelled its summer pops season, in addition to its October and November calendar events. It is still trying to continue its season in December, but these cancellations are a product of severe monetary issues.

I looked into this, and found that part of the issue is the inability to meet the demands of musicians' union. The orchestra is also, of course at the whim of the economy, and has had other periods through which it struggled, some of which even began in the early 90s. None unforunately compare to what it now faces. I was also surprised to find out about all of the other orchestras who are currently struggling, some of which have had to shut down completely. For example, Honolulu's orchestra was unable to cover payroll last year, and Seattle's orchestra (this was a surprise to me, because Seattle is such a fast-growing city right now) is having substantial problems with its deficit.

I forget how much endowments can secure an orchestra's future. With the economy the way it is right now, (and knowing what audiences numbers are like in the midwest :-) ) I fear for these smaller orchestras. Really, where are they going to find the money?

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