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June 20, 2007

No Crutches

by Ed Cambron

When did classical music audiences get removed from the equation? Did it happen in the 1960s when foundations started supporting growth and Greg's Bob Dylan phenomenon occurred? Were orchestras growing for the wrong reasons?

I will never forget a speech I heard several years ago given by Gary Graffman at Curtis. He basically said that the problem with orchestras started in the 60s when they became big businesses, adding development, marketing, and other functions, thus creating a need for more and more audiences and support which weren't naturally present in the community. I've always been bothered by what he said, because in my opinion these developments were a response to growing orchestra musician contract costs requiring 52 weeks of employment, expanded benefits, etc. We became supply driven and fundraising bailed us out.

Our response was to try to bring more people to what we do, without really changing anything. What if we had addressed the challenges back then differently? What if we had factored in the audience then, as I think we are trying to do now?

With these thoughts in mind, maybe we should let Moy Eng of the hook and remove the funding crutch from our experimental orchestra. Maybe the pace of change would be far faster, the commitment more intense, and the results more meaningful.

Posted by ecambron at June 20, 2007 10:53 AM


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