Putting the Nashville Symphony’s financial crisis in context

Posted on: June 20, 2013

In Thursday’s (6/20) Nashville Scene (Tennessee), John Pitcher examines the events that led up to bank foreclosure proceedings underway against the Nashville Symphony’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, which are taking place as contract talks between musicians and orchestra management were also scheduled to begin Wednesday. In March, “The NSO board announced that it did not plan to renew a letter of credit totaling some $100 million in outstanding bonds” used to build the concert hall. “If not renewing the letter of credit was intended to get the banks’ attention, it worked only too well.… As of press time Wednesday morning, [a public] auction was still scheduled for 10:30 a.m. June 28…. As the Scene was going to press, sources familiar with negotiations between the NSO and the banks indicated that terms of a settlement were being worked out.… In early 2008, the orchestra was still living off robust ticket sales, grants and donations from the prior season. Once the effects of the economic meltdown and global recession finally kicked in, the NSO’s budget numbers crashed.” The flood in 2010, which did $40 million in damage to the Schermerhorn, further worsened the orchestra’s finances, even with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “One thing is guaranteed: Orchestras that have gone through these ordeals in the past have always emerged as leaner, meaner organizations…. The NSO has already sought cuts … in hopes of appeasing the banks. On Tuesday, the symphony announced it will discontinue its in-house food service operation at the Schermerhorn effective Aug. 4.”

Posted June 20, 2013

Photo of Schermerhorn Symphony Center by Eric England