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Classical Notes

Music and The Economy

Posted at 10:17 AM on October 28, 2008 by Gillian Martin

It's no surprise that the state of the economy is hitting arts organizations hard, too. Reduced ticket sales, lower donations, and declining endowments all take their tolls. This article from today's New York Times (registration required) describes how some orchestras and opera companies plan to cut back without reducing musical quality.

For example, here's what the Detroit-based Michigan Opera is doing:

In addition to canceling "Pagliacci" next spring, the company is letting three employees go, giving up on a big Wagner production next year in favor of the less financially taxing "Don Giovanni" and doing without the final performance in an April run of Donizetti's "Elixir of Love." That performance had been scheduled to take place at the same time as a Final Four game of the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament, at nearby Ford Field. Management thinks it can make more money renting out its parking lot to fans.

What about Minnesota music and arts organizations? According to a Star Tribune article a few weeks ago, the Minnesota Orchestra will preserve its artistic goals, while slowing down on things like renovations to Orchestra Hall:

The orchestra is not paring back its recording schedule or touring plans -- both fully funded for three years -- because [Minnesota Orchestra chief executive Michael] Henson believes they're key to the group's growth and reputation. Violin superstar Joshua Bell will accompany the 2009 tour, evidence that the orchestra is not shirking on expensive box-office sizzle.

"We've been very careful to maintain the high artistic quality of what we're doing," Henson said.

Read more here.