Opinion: a five-year, $5 million plan for Minnesota Orchestra

Posted on: May 8, 2013

In an opinion piece in Wednesday’s (5/8) Star Tribune (Minneapolis), guest columnist Lee Henderson writes, “My wife and I traveled to Los Angeles last week to hear a world-class symphony orchestra. Last fall, we went to Chicago for the same ¬purpose. How sad is that? We have (or had) a world-class symphony orchestra in Minnesota, but the orchestra does not play (because of a lockout and bruised egos on all sides). … I would think that the board and management would understand that you cannot cut your way to prosperity. When you have some of the world’s finest musicians and conductors making world-class music, it is not a lack of a quality product that is the problem. You need to look inward—it is management’s responsibility to sell tickets, raise money, and balance the budget… Times have changed, and the musicians will have to change, too. Refusing to bargain because you were insulted so deeply by the initial offer does not advance the cause. Blaming management for manipulating the endowment funds does not advance the cause, either. Great music is not found on a spreadsheet. … Management says there is a $5 million problem. For the next five years, do the following (all with new money): Musicians must reduce their costs by $1 million a year. … Ordinary season-ticket subscribers need to contribute $1 million a year. If 500 of us will contribute $2,000 per year to the orchestra, we can meet this goal. Management needs to raise $3 million per year from those people with an eight-, nine- or 10-digit net worth and the large numbers of stable companies in the Twin Cities. Six gifts of $500,000 each would get this done rather quickly.”

Posted May 8, 2013