More news from the Orchestras of Pasadena, fast becoming a poster child for arts organizations that have hit hard times, with hardships chronicled everywhere from the LA Times to the New York Times.
The group officially announced Monday in a press release the cancellation of four concerts this season: Nov. 15, Dec. 6, Feb. 14, 2009, and March 21, 2009. That amounts to half the 2008-09 season, with remaining concerts scheduled for Jan. 10, March 14 and April 18. (The first concert was Oct. 18 – a great success if I do say so myself! Want tickets to the next one in January? ;).
The group also will reorganize its staff, and among the changes is the resignation of Executive Director Tom O’Connor. Board member Jean Horton will serve as interim director.
Let's take a moment to note the local coverage from the Pasadena Star-News, which today published the news under the headline, "Director of Bands Resigns Post". Director of Bands?
To be clear, neither music director is resigning. The orchestra's press release implies that Jorge Mester, Music Director for the symphony, and Rachel Worby, Music Director for the pops, will remain with the organization. The orchestra is asking for donations and support.
I've put in a phone call to Interim Director Jean Horton, in hopes that we can talk about where the orchestras go from here. It's a question of wide relevance during hard economic times. Certainly, the Orchestras of Pasadena face some unique challenges, namely their consolidation of pops, symphony and youth orchestras into one organization, about a year ago. But arts organizations everywhere will likely face many of the same challenges they face: diminishing returns on endowments, an economy in deep recession, and a world of grants that supports educational programs far more generously than it supports the very concerts that are a symphony's primary reason for existence.
Where do we go from here? The answer lies in organizational savvy, combined with a passion to keep a high-quality, live orchestra as part of the community. We have to show the community why that's important. Put on your seat belts.
It's times like these when we need music and arts more than ever so I'm rooting for your orchestra to pull it together! To quote from the movie "I Am Legend," Will Smith's character brings up the life and mission of Bob Marley and tells another survivor "Light up the darkness!" Thank you for keeping us posted.
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