Louisville Orchestra files for bankruptcy - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Orchestra files for bankruptcy

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB Fox 41) -- The Louisville Orchestra has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a move it says is meant to ensure its future.

The orchestra says it has to reduce costs by about $1 million.  The orchestra board and management want to operate with 55 full-time musicians, supplemented by 16 part-timers.  "It is essential that we sustain the Orchestra for future generations," says Board President Chuck Maisch.  "The steps we are taking will help to preserve this important cultural treasure."

The Louisville Orchestra has been holding contract talks with its musicians since July, but no deal has been made.

"It's a very austere moment for the orchestra," says orchestra CEO Robert Birman. "What people need to know is that this is not the end of the orchestra, but the beginning of a new chapter."

Click here to read an earlier story on the negotiations.

The musicians have said that trimming the number of players would be like putting the orchestra to death.  And they believe estimates of its financial condition have been inflated.

"It's a sad day for the Louisville Orchestra and for the arts in Louisville," says Kim Tichenor, a member of the musicians negotiating committee.

The orchestra is reaching out to the community with its side of the story; it has posted on its website a "resource page" with video files, past news coverage, and links to its tax returns and independent audits.

Click here for the Louisville Orchestra's Resource Page.

The musicians say fundraising can close the funding gap, while management has offered early retirement packages and suggested shortening the season. Another option -- shutting down the orchestra for a couple of months.

An anonymous donor gave enough for the orchestra's musicians to be paid through the last pay period.  It's set to play in the "Brown-Forman Nutcracker," which runs December fourth through the 19th.

The orchestra says contract negotiations will continue.  It notes that corporate giving is down and money for the arts is declining across the nation.

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