…but potentially bad PR for other artists.
Pianist Emanuel Ax has waived two concert fees for the Columbus Symphony this weekend.
This is an unquestionably classy and genuine act, but I have to wonder: does it set a dangerous precedent for soloists going forward? Hefty artist fees are often blamed for high concert ticket prices, so will fee-waiving be expected, or – worse – will artists who do not play with orchestras that can’t afford their fees be perceived as greedy by the concert-going public? Also, can Mr. Ax/will Mr. Ax write the fees off as donations? Because that opens an entirely different can of worms…
Again, Mr. Ax has proved himself to be incredibly generous, it’s just a complicated issue.
What I’m most curious about, actually, is why the orchestra made the information public.
Thinking out loud update, Saturday 3/21 morning: Perhaps the Columbus Symphony made the news public in hopes that the resulting publicity buzz (to which I am fully aware I am contributing) would spur new and old donor support. “If an artist like Emanuel Ax is supporting us, we’re worth supporting and you should, too.” Could a better way to have handled this have been for Mr. Ax to accept the fee(s) and then publicly donate them back to the orchestra without naming the sum, or explaining that the donation was his fees? The orchestra could have then listed him as a donor going forward. Although that, too, has its complications: will orchestras only hire artists who are major donors? Does that basically mean you can pay to play? Would his management have accepted commission? If so, would his management have had to donate their commission? Can artist managers ethically make donations to orchestras?