â€œThe mission of the Columbus Symphony is to develop and foster the art of orchestral music at the highest possible artistic level. Through its concerts, outreach, and educational activities, it is a community resource that is a major component of the quality of life in Central Ohio.â€ -From the Columbus Symphony Management Strategic Plan
"...The board, musicians and community must work together (because) Columbus deserves and needs this orchestra," -Anne Melvin, Columbus Symphony Trustee, Columbus Dispatch, 1/18/08
"The foundation of the ARTS in Columbus is the Symphony. It's the treasure that supports the Opera, the Ballet, and educational programs for children in the public schools." -Joann Foucht, Womenâ€™s Association of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Dispatch, 1/28/08
â€œLast nightâ€™s brilliant performance by this maestro and this orchestra made believers out of everyone: The Hirokami Era has begun.â€ -Barbara Zuck, Columbus Dispatch
â€œ...In six years I can make this orchestra one of the best.â€ -Junichi Hirokami, NY Times, 4/12/08
â€œ...Business leaders and artists throughout the nation (are) watching Columbus. They... hope to see a demonstration of confidence in the future of this city.â€ -Bruce Ridge, Chair, International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) Letter to Editor, Columbus Dispatch, 2/6/08
To the Citizens and Leadership of Columbus-
The world is watching Columbus as the Symphony Board of Trustees and Management request large cuts from an orchestra whose members are performing with world class quality. The orchestra took 11% pay cuts three years ago, now restored, to help shore up sagging financial support following a lengthy period without an Artistic or Executive Director. Better results were promised. Now management insists on 40% salary cuts to stabilize the organization.
A gem of cultural pride, loved by Columbus audiences, the Symphony as we know it would not survive these cuts.
The people of Greater Columbus Community know and appreciate the exemplary quality of the Symphony. A flood of supportive letters to the Dispatch has demonstrated this. Our fine Orchestra contributes to the vitality of downtown, both economically and culturally. Thousands of people attend regular concerts, enriched by the unique experience of live classical music. Thousands more benefit from the outreach and education fostered by the members of the Symphony.
In the past decade, total non-musician expenses have increased an average of 7% per year, while total musician expenses increased only 4% per year. In fact, the percentage for musician costs actually went down from 47% of the total budget in the â€˜99-â€™00 season to 39% in â€˜05-â€™06. Musician costs for the â€˜06-â€™07 season were around 42%, at the low end of the national average of 40-50%. (*-source footnote)
The current total musician expenses amount to about $5.4 million out of a $12.4 million budget.* Why not maintain the heart of the orchestra, its musicians, and create a satisfactory budget built on that? Untapped gold mines of volunteers are eager to help. Grassroots organizations can generate untold support and revenue. Several burgeoning efforts are already proving their value. As a community letâ€™s move into action and make it happen.
The Greater Columbus Community accomplishes great things with the right leadership. We all need to step forward and rescue this gem for our city.
â€œAcross the country, exciting things are happening for symphony orchestras. ...attendance is up, downloads are rising faster than for any other musical genre, ...and the New York Times is proclaiming that this could be "the Golden Age for Classical Music.â€ - Bruce Ridge, Chair, ICSOM
I encourage you to be a part of the exciting things that are happening for symphony orchestras. Together we can make this happen.
David H Thomas
Columbus Symphony Orchestra
"I still want to believe there's a solution out there." Tony Beadle, Executive Director, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Dispatch, 3/14/08
(* Sources- Total income and expense figures from audit reports provided by the CSO; Total musician expense figures from expense statements provided by the CSO)