I had lunch with a friend the other day, and after talking politics and basketball, we got to talking about the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. It turns out we were both season ticket holders--one of us had made a contribution during the "keep the music playing" appeal. And we were now both in the same situation--more than a little miffed, and doubting that we'd buy season tickets again next year, if the opportunity presented itself. We had similar questions, which have yet to be answered.
I want to be cautious in any criticism of the board of directors, as they are volunteers who give a lot of their time--and a lot of their own money--to the orchestra. But if one of the arguments to support the orchestra is that it is a cherished public resource for the community, then the ultimate line of management for that resource needs to be held publicly accountable for its actions. Here's what I want to know:
--The board keeps talking about cutting back the size of the orchestra, but is an orchestra with an administrative staff that is almost a third as large as the group of core musicians more "administratively heavy" than is typically the case?
--Why have key administrative people been leaving?
--Why weren't there direct and honest communications earlier on with the season ticket holders, so that we didn't have to become informed about our investment through newspaper accounts?
--What was the thinking, and what were the expectations, behind the decisions of the past few years?
--What's the path forward that is currently envisioned by the board--how and why does it expect that the orchestra will survive?
Note: This blog draws in part on my experiences and observations interviewing political figures, writers, and analysts for "The Campbell Conversations" on WRVO. To hear past interviews I refer to in these posts, please go to the show's website. The views expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent Syracuse University, the Campbell Institute, or the WRVO Stations.
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Monday, April 4, 2011
SSO -- What I Want to Know
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