Great Recession tightens grip on arts groups, locally and nationally
The effects of the Great Recession continue to hit arts groups just about everywhere.
Here, the Baltimore Symphony imposed two-week furloughs on all administrative staff (60 full-time employees), including the president/CEO. The unpaid weeks must be taken by the end of the fiscal year, Aug. 31. "We are looking at every other possibility" to save money, says Eileen Andrews Jackson, BSO VP for marketing and communications. Whether that will mean reopening the musicians' contract remains to be seen. The BSO already went through a round of staff reductions and various cost-cutting measures earlier this year.
It would be easy to start developing an inferiority complex in Baltimore, given all the harsh news on the cultural front --- Baltimore Opera gone; Senator Theatre shuttered; Baltimore Chamber Orchestra in a suspended-operations state; a Verdi Requiem postponed by Concert Artists of Baltimore until next season due to slow ticket sales; reductions, furloughs and a canceled exhibition at the Walters Art Museum; theater groups hanging by a thread; etc. But, if it's any consolation, we're hardly alone.
Today brings news that the Orlando Opera, with more than 50 years behind it, is facing the possibility of canceling next season if $500,000 isn't raised quickly. There's also a report that the Cleveland Orchestra, facing a big deficit, has started salary cuts. Music director Franz Welser-Most is giving up 20 percent of his salary, the executive director 15 percent, the rest of senior management 10 percent. Other tough measures are being taken as well.
The distressing reality is that the economy is sure to harm more arts organizations before things start to turn around. That said, stay tuned for a little bright news on the Baltimore music scene that I'll post shortly.