Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Uncertain Future of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Consider this: There are, I think, twenty full time symphony orchestras in the United States.  A country of over three hundred million people can support only twenty full time symphony orchestras. That number is about to be reduced by one. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is in serious financial straits. In fact Indianapolis could lose the ISO altogether. The contract with the musicians expired Sept 1.

Apparently, the ISO is running a 10 million dollar deficit. In response the powers that be over the orchestra want to reduce the number of full time musicians by about a dozen and significantly reduce the pay of those they retain. They want to reduce the season from 52 weeks down to only 36. Of course, the musicians are opposed to these changes. Obviously, something's got to give. It is possible that if management prevails, many of the musicians will leave the orchestra altogether. That would be a hard, but perhaps necessary choice.

Some may not believe this, but Indianapolis does have diversions other than sports. The Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Eiteljorg Museum, The Indianapolis Children's Museum, The Indiana Repertory Theatre, The Indianapolis Zoo, along with the ISO and several other arts and cultural institutions in and around the city provide a significant draw for people who may or may not cater to sports, but also want something more for themselves and their children to enjoy. The ISO has been an integral part of Indy's cultural fabric for decades. Its loss would be a critical blow to the city's reputation.

I certainly do not have a solution to the problem at hand. My last foray with the state lottery garnered 2 free tickets. It can be argued that a truncated season with a smaller orchestra would be preferable to nothing at all. On the other hand the loss of their summer season and other performance opportunities, along with the diminished number of musicians will have a critical and lasting effect upon not only the quantity of their product, but also on its quality. The loss of many of the quality musicians from the orchestra will likely take a toll in that regard. It's also possible that they could well lose Conductor Krzysztof Urbański should the proposed reductions come to fruition.

Would that some billionaire were to divert say a paultry twenty or thirty million away from their support of some political super pac or other and dedicate it instead to the life and lasting health of the Indianapois Symphony Orchestra. That would be money far better spent.

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