League responds to Huffington Post article about the future of orchestras

Posted on: November 11, 2009

In response to Michael Kaiser’s article in Tuesday’s (11/10) Huffington Post, in which the Kennedy Center president argued that only a small group of “elite” orchestras will survive and thrive in the new economy, League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen writes, “A healthy debate is raging within America’s orchestras about the traditional cost structure or ‘business model,’ and whether the current economic crisis will result in permanent change or just a period of instability. In other words, is this just bad weather or real climate change? The current, understandable, focus on economics masks the greater discussion that is ongoing; namely, finding new ‘sweet spots’ for making the orchestral experience accessible and desirable to a broader cut of our society. A group of musicians, managers, and board leaders took a good look at the big picture. Their 2008 report (www.americanorchestras.org/knowledge_research_and_innovation/orchestra_forum_etf.html) points out that ‘orchestra finances cannot be addressed in a vacuum.’ Questions need to be asked about artistic activity, community relationships, and internal culture. These are big areas, and the solutions obviously will vary by orchestra and by community. How individual orchestras take up this challenge is not for us at the League of American Orchestras to dictate. Some can turn their operation on a dime; others move more slowly. In some cases necessity is mothering invention. The League’s role is to use every channel we have (and we are creating more) to research, put the word out about interesting experiments, and become a forum for the important conversations that matter. There’s nothing to be gained in laying blame at the feet of any one group. We need to channel that energy into innovative thinking—together.” The original article and Rosen’s response—posted on the comment board—can be viewed here.

Photo by Asher Kelman

Posted November 11, 2009