The decision follows months of financial uncertainty for the
At the end of the 2011-12 season, the orchestra made an appeal to the community for emergency funds to deal with a
During the appeal, the orchestra released a statement saying its budget was comparable to orchestras in smaller cities such as
All of those orchestras have announced full concert seasons for 2014-15.
Although last year's merger was supposed to strengthen both the opera and the philharmonic, it hasn't had that effect. The two groups' combined budgets totaled more than
In January, the organization received a
"We really gave this a lot of thought as a board," Nelson said of the decision to scrap the fall season. "We could have done another season, like we did last year, and struggle along and end up the year with no money in the bank. Instead, we decided to take a pause and really give some consideration to how to build a foundation for the future."
The decision was greeted with dismay by
"We're certainly shocked and dismayed that an organization that has had consistent budgets above
"This has been frustrating -- very frustrating -- for the musicians," Gardner said.
The financial troubles at the SRPAA are no rarity in the arts; many orchestras and opera companies have severely pruned their seasons, and some have closed altogether.
"The orchestra is the only one of its size and in a city the size of
He noted that smaller orchestras in smaller cities such as the
"Those orchestras have turned a corner," said Gardner.
"When you look at the skyline in
Nelson said bankruptcy is not a likely option if no workable solutions are found.
"That is not in the cards at this point in time," said Nelson. "If that were to occur, it would be such a blow to this community and the art form. I think it would take years for us to get back to being able to offer something to the community."
Nelson said the success of the hiatus will depend on two factors: whether new board members can be brought on, and to what extent it is established that the community wants to support the orchestra and opera company.
She called the current SRPAA board "too small and overworked."
She said the SRPAA is looking for long-term financial commitments from new board members. "Instead of a one-time commitment we will respectfully ask donors to give for three years so we have a foundation to build upon." Nelson said.
Contributions from individuals will be key, given the region's less-than-stellar reputation for philanthropic giving to the arts and lack of corporate philanthropy.
The challenges at the SRPAA are also compounded by an absence of long-term leadership. General director
Nelson said some of the problems stemmed from the fact that when both organizations merged they discovered that only 7 percent of their audiences overlapped.
"We had a steep learning curve," said Nelson. "We had some challenges figuring what direction we wanted to go."
At present, the only concert likely to happen is a
That partnership, called "Link Up!" is in its fifth year and involves orchestra musicians working with students in the region's schools on music curriculum. The culmination is a May concert with students performing alongside orchestral musicians.
For Dixon, that effort is a bright spot in a sea of uncertainty. The absence of fall concerts and the expectation of a deeply reduced spring concert slate means he will have to scramble to make ends meet.
"It's a definite blow," Dixon said. "The challenge is, when we get so reduced, how can we rebound?"
Nonetheless, Dixon remains optimistic that the philharmonic can recover.
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