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Just in: Minnesota stares into big, black, deepening holes

The two orchestras of the Twin Cities, both of which have thrown their players onto the street, are on the verge of announcing huge deficits.

The St Paul Chamber Orchestra lost $890,080 last season.

The Minnesota Orchestra is $6 million down on the year. Latest here. Background here.

Neither orch is speaking to its musicians. The music has died, yet executives continue drawing salaries and the chairmen inflate their social status.

This is Alice in Wonderland, writ large.

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Comments

  1. It is irrational to use a neo-feudalistic system of arts funding in the 21st century. Until we develop a comprehensive public funding system like *all* other developed countries have long had, our arts world will continue to be ruled by the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit.

    • Joep Bronkhorst says:

      When I was in San Francisco I was told that SF Opera, Symphony etc. were hoping that the Silicon Valley generation, now in middle age, would be the main backers and sponsors for the future. So far, however, this has singularly failed to happen.

    • Michael Endres says:

      I could not agree more.

    • Nuvakwahu says:

      Mr. Osborne, you are deluded and living in a bubble. Never going to happen. Orchestras are going to be smaller and everyone involved will be making less. Staff, CEO’s, musicians. The art of music will be just fine. The business enterprises organized to deliver that art will have to shrink.

      It is time we stopped equating growth with success.

      • The average salary for a musician in a regional orchestra is jut over 13k a year. And we only have 3 cities in the top 100 for opera performances per year. Indeed, when it comes to supporting the so-called high arts, the USA is the world leader in smallness. The cause is our unique and isolated funding system which doesn’t work. And sadly, there is nothing that can be done to make it work. We need to join the rest of the developed world and create an effective public funding system for the arts.

  2. More lunacy revealed. (Meanwhile the RQ4A Global Hawk drone that crashed in a Maryland swamp this past summer was valued at $176,000,000.)

  3. Wow. The SPCO has balanced budgets for most of the past 17 years, yet all of a sudden we have an emergency and must have a short-term solution to a long-term problem (while insisting that we keep prices unsustainably low so as to “build audience loyalty” and donations “over time”). Pretty one-sided, I’d say.

    • NotAJournalist says:

      Agreed-why are so many people, including reporters, assuming these budget and deficit numbers are legit? I’ve seen pot roasts less cooked than the Minnesota books.

      • Management won’t release more numbers than legally obligated to, and won’t allow a financial analysis. Even just a few years ago their finances were discussed at open meetings. Not anymore.

        But when a M&A lawyer is controlling everything (Board, CEO . . .) what else do you expect?

  4. stravinsky says:

    And yet, Apple puts out an iPhone TV commercial where an orchestra is depicted as “background noise”

  5. Terry Carlson says:

    DFL [Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party] Rep. Phyllis Kahn represents Minneapolis District 59B in the Minnesota House of Representatives:

    “Perhaps this is what I find most disappointing about the Minnesota Orchestra lockout. Recognizing the importance the orchestra plays in enhancing our standard of living, I was supportive of the $16 million in bonding dollars recently granted to the Minnesota Orchestra to renovate Orchestra Hall and Peavey Plaza. Additionally, I have been supportive of the funding it has received from the Arts Board — including Legacy dollars — that have been awarded over the past four years to help with operating costs.

    “I did not support distributing public dollars to the Minnesota Orchestra so they could cut their musicians pay by 30 to 50 percent. Nor did I vote in favor of these funds so they could lock out musicians who, in recognizing this financial slight, have made efforts to engage in arbitration or have offered to continue working under the old contract until both sides can reach an amicable agreement. And I certainly did not vote to send these funds to the orchestra to have them resist any attempts to make their budget more transparent.”

    . . .

    “I would urge Minnesotans to read between the lines when it comes to the orchestra’s lockout. At its core, this is not an issue of budgets and bottom lines. This is about what we as Minnesotans value most.”

    http://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2012/12/its-core-issue-mn-orchestra-lockout-values-not-budgets

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