Opinion: Milwaukee Symphony is artistically strong, financially struggling

Posted on: October 17, 2013

In his blog Striniwrites on Wednesday (10/16), arts journalist Tom Strini writes about the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, which faces a $1.8 million deficit. He reflects on similar financial issues at the orchestra that he reported on as music critic at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel beginning in the 1980s. “The one great positive is that lines of communication between management and players have been wide open for years. Players sit on every important board committee and have lots of face time with managers, especially since former principal trumpeter Mark Niehaus became executive director and president of the orchestra.… I’ve been listening to the MSO since 1982, and it has never played as brilliantly as it does right now. But the problems that led to all those crises over the decades remain. The endowment stands at a paltry $17 million. The orchestra still lacks the attractive, outdoor summer venue it needs…. As I write this, the area’s movers and shakers are mobilizing a task force to figure out how to give the Milwaukee Bucks millions of tax dollars for a new arena.… If we’re going to create a new revenue stream for quality of life, why should it be exclusively for sports? I would argue that artistic endeavors … have nearly as much economic impact on the area as the Bucks or the Brewers, and certainly more social impact.”

Posted October 17, 2013