Louisville Orchestra faces down rough economy

Posted on: April 20, 2009

“Amid the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, Louisville’s principal arts organizations are being challenged as never before,” writes Andrew Adler in Sunday’s (4/19) Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky). Adler provides an overview of how various performing and visual-arts organizations in the city are dealing with the economy. Among them is the Louisville Orchestra, whose endowment is at $8.2 million, down from $10.6 million a year ago. “Overall, the Louisville Orchestra wants to cut $1 million from its operating budget covering the coming season. ‘The bottom line for us is consolidation,’ emphasizes Robert Birman, the orchestra’s chief operating officer. For example, next season, half of the LO’s pops concerts will be given at the Kentucky Center’s Whitney Hall rather than the Louisville Palace. ‘That has a cost savings,’ Birman explains, ‘and also acoustical amenities.’… Meanwhile, the orchestra has continued to merge various administrative functions with Kentucky Opera, which occupies nearby offices in the ArtSpace building above the Brown Theatre on Broadway.” Birman is “encouraged by increases in subscription-renewal rates compared with this time last year, and a healthy jump in contributions to the LO’s annual fund. Nonetheless, no one is breaking out the champagne just yet. ‘It’s nice that we are ahead,’ Birman acknowledges, ‘but the only thing that matters is where we end up.’ ”

Posted April 20, 2009

Photo: Whitney Hall, home of the Louisville Orchestra