The Louisville Orchestra – Downsize or Die (12/16/10)
Since 1937, the Louisville Orchestra has been known worldwide for its outstanding quality. But it's also been known since its beginning for weathering one financial crisis after another. So the Orchestra filing for chapter 11 protection hasn't caught many people by surprise.
The problem isn't the musicians or the board. Both groups have always wanted only what's best for the Orchestra, and both have given their best. The problem is that the cultural landscape has changed, and the Orchestra must change with it. But the hard truth is, Louisville is unable to support an Orchestra with 71 full-time musicians, playing 37 weeks a year.
The books don't lie: traditional revenue sources such as Bequests, Bailouts and Borrowing have dried up. In order to survive, the Louisville Orchestra has to lower its expenses by a million dollars a year. The only way it can do that is by reducing the number of full-time musicians to a number in line with cities of a similar size, and also reducing the number of weeks they play. It's important to note, this move will not reduce the quality or even the number of professional musicians on the stage, just the number of full-time musicians.
As a board member, I am confident the Orchestra will bounce back healthier than ever.
I think this is the exciting new beginning of a sustainable orchestra with a business model that Louisville can support.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my…Point of View.