Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

The ongoing Atlanta Symphony Debacle..

“If the 10th-largest urban economy in America is incapable of sustaining its cultural jewel, what does that signal about our country?” This is a question that the current music director, Robert Spano, of the Atlanta Symphony proposed in an article in the New York Times. As stated in the article, music directors tend to stay quiet during these types of disagreements, but in this case, Mr. Spano decided it was time to get involved. This orchestra already went through a lockout, less than two years ago, and as a result the orchestra was downsized. Now, they are fighting to keep the already downsized orchestra that they have, while they are dealing with more proposed salary cuts. There was also a recent announcement that the opening concert was postponed for the time being.

With worries around money, it it’s interesting that they would allow the cancellation of the very first concert. How does this ultimately benefit the symphony? I think this will be an interesting case to follow.

To check out what the musicians are saying, (and doing), check out their webpage here.

I leave the questions open to thoughts and responses, “If the 10th-largest urban economy in America is incapable of sustaining its cultural jewel, what does that signal about our country?”

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3 comments on “The ongoing Atlanta Symphony Debacle..

  1. torisharbaugh
    September 25, 2014

    The importance of arts over entertainment has severely diminished in this country. The arts are maintaining their elitist stereotype and it is destroying them. Especially with younger generations, the arts are not an area people think they can relate to. With the decline of arts education in schooling and growing focus on popular entertainment, the arts are not of much value to individuals anymore.

    Although the growing irrelevance of the arts in our country is a major factor in large cultural institutions failing, it also brings up the issue of spending. Yes, the Atlanta Symphony has already downsized their orchestra and made other types of cutbacks, but what other areas beside the downsizing can be afforded? I see a trend towards orchestral size and musicians salaries always being the first cuts made. I would love to see orchestra’s and operas think outside the box on ways to cut spending. Engage their creative minds!

  2. qfloyd
    September 25, 2014

    Unbelievable! I understand the economy is recovering and organizations are losing funding but what is going on with the ASO and other orchestras around the country that are on its last leg is due to bad management/leadership? Are people not coming to concerts? Are they not marketing sufficiently? What is going on? This article is disappointing. As a future arts manager, reading articles like this gives little hope in the future of arts organizations. A serious case study is in order to see where the ASO is lacking.

  3. jaredchamoff
    September 26, 2014

    You bring up a good point mentioning why the ASO would cancel their opening night, especially in the face of such economic distress. The ASO postponing the beginning of their season reminds me of when TV shows start midyear. I imagine that reducing a concert/tv season has to do with the funding required to get a concert/tv show produced. Reducing the season is a way to help quell the clear economic ruin. Yet, as Spano discusses, this situation is a very bad sign for what is to come for arts organizations in America.

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