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Classical Notes: May 18, 2008 Archive

A Tale of Two Orchestras

Posted at 11:17 AM on May 18, 2008 by Gillian Martin (3 Comments)

Two smaller American orchestras have been on the brink of collapse this spring. Last week, one got closer to the edge while the other got something of a lifeline.

First, the Columbus Symphony:

Citing a lack of money and a potential deficit of $3 million next year, the board announced Thursday that the Picnic With the Pops series was canceled and the orchestra would shut down June 1. Only a new, money-saving labor contract could save the 2008-09 season, the board said.

That was May 10 (find the whole article here).

A few days later, the symphony was dealt another blow. The Greater Columbus Arts Council cut them off:

"We shouldn't be giving operational support to an organization that's not going to be here after June 1," said council President Bryan W. Knicely.

The Symphony has an annual budget of $13.5 million, and the Arts Council gave them about $260,000 last year. That's only about 2% of their budget, but it sure does set an ominous precedent for other funders.

But things look sunnier in Honolulu--don't they always? The Honolulu Symphony is also in dire financial straits, but it hopes it's now building momentum of a different kind. Last week an anonymous donor gave the orchestra $1.175 million.

That doesn't fix the problem--the symphony is now only 4 weeks behind on payroll instead of 11--but it does help. The administration is hoping that gift will spur donations from others. Time will tell...

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