Symphony Cancels Return to Carnegie Hall

Amid other changes to keep the organization solvent (and please the Tea Party paradigm).

By Aaron Scott October 18, 2012

“SYMPHONY DETERMINED TO LIVE WITHIN ITS MEANS.” So reads the gut-punching title of the press release the Oregon Symphony just sent out that sounds like it was drafted to please the Tea Party. “We are taking a number of steps to demonstrate our commitment to remaining debt-free and our determination to live within our means,” states Board Chair Terry Pancoast in the release (you can read the full release here). 

Chief among those steps are the elimination of three staff positions, salary cuts, and most significant to fans, the cancellation of their return to Carnegie Hall.

“It does not seem appropriate to take our musicians across the country to perform for New York audiences when we will have made so many other sacrifices to cut costs,” says Pancoast. “Our mission is to perform great music here at home for our local and regional audience, and we’re best served by focusing on that core mission at this time.”

To that end, the Symphony is also making a couple of changes in the hopes of boosting revenue, including adding legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins, substituting Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for the previously scheduled Britten’s War Requiem, and bringing on a new fundraiser.

While the Symphony has balanced its budget over the last three years, it has done so through unsustainable last minute major donations. These changes, Pancoast says, are necessary to continue to get foundation money that requires budgets ending in the black.

The arts funding initiative Measure 26-146 that could help ensure sustainable funding for organizations like the Symphony is about to go before local voters. Do you think it's an effective way to support these financially troubled local organizations? And what do you think of the seeming seepage of the Tea Party's/Republican's monolithic focus on cutting expenditures into even arts organizations' financial narratives?

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