September 22, 2009

It's difficult to watch as our national arts organizations go begging for relatively small sums while bankers rake in taxpayer money and give themselves fat bonuses. Via the Baltimore Sun:

Over the weekend, my colleague Peter Dobrin reported on the Philadelphia Orchestra's emergency need $15 million to held ends meet. Here's an excerpt:

The orchestra is running a string of large deficits - $3.3 million for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, and a projected $7.5 million for the current year - and has maxed out its line of credit.

"Unless we, individually and collectively, provide critical financial support in the next several weeks, there is danger that our effort to fix and transform the orchestra will falter," incoming board chairman Richard B. Worley wrote in a four-page memo to the board. "Without financial stability, we will continually be forced to devote our energy to triaging short-term financial crises, making long-term sustainable change more difficult. We cannot shrink our way to a better future."

Discouraging news is everywhere in the arts world, of course. It's going to be another rough season. The situation in Philadelphia drives home what's happening here, where the Baltimore Symphony has been doing the battle of the budget since the Great Recession grabbed hold, and has done so with a remarkable degree of internal cohesiveness. For more on the local picture (just in case you missed it -- and we wouldn't want that to happen, would we?), I've got a story in today's paper.

Fifteen million? Chump change. Why not hit the bankers with a culture tax?

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