Can the Traditional Model of a Symphony Orchestra Work in the United States?
November 17, 2009 § Leave a comment
Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, shares a question raised by a fellow from the Kennedy Center Arts Management Institute: Does the Symphonic Orchestra Model Work? The fellow from the Institute observed that the salaries for musicians and conductors are high, and ticket revenue has been struggling because of high prices and low demand. In addition, contribution income is under pressure to grow fast enough to cover the gap between the costs and ticket revenue.
This article made me wonder how many orchestras could survive eventually. Regional orchestras depend more and more on contribution income especially under this painful economic weather in which I don’t believe the contribution income satisfies their needs. Almost too often, we hear that major orchestras have huge shortfall in their budgets and are about to close or shorten their seasons.
One thing he talks about in this article is that that the management side of most orchestras considers salaries for orchestra members as high fixed costs, so when a orchestra struggles financially, the salaries for musicians become an easy target to reduce. However, would this be a solution? I know when the existency of an entire organization is questionable, reducing salaries is inevitable, but for many times, I hear that forcing to reduce the salaries causes another sub problem in addition to all the other existing problems.
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