Sydney Festival bypasses local orchestra, hires German group in cost-cutting move

Posted on: August 12, 2013

In Friday’s (8/9) Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Andrew Taylor reports, “The Sydney Festival will use a German orchestra in its centerpiece show next year because it is cheaper than employing Australian musicians. The festival’s artistic director, Lieven Bertels, said it was ‘a considerably lower cost’ to pay for the flights, accommodation and wages of German orchestra Akademie fuer Alte Music Berlin than use the Sydney-based Australian Brandenburg Orchestra” for the festival production of Dido & Aeneas, scheduled for January 16-21, 2014 at the Sydney Lyric Theatre.… “ ‘We have a different business model from any other orchestra in Australia,’ [Brandenburg General Manager Bruce Applebaum] said. ‘We only have 10 musicians on salary. We augment everything we do with casual musicians.’ ” Sydney Festival Director Bertels “said European arts organisations were heavily subsidized by their governments, which made it possible for them to perform at the Sydney Festival.… ‘German companies receive something like up to 75 per cent of their costs from the government. The German model is the one we all love.’ Bertels said Chinese arts organisations such as the Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre, which performed in this year’s Sydney Festival, were also supported by their government. In contrast, the Brandenburg receives just 16 per cent of its revenue from the government.”

Posted August 12, 2013