League of American Orchestras is on red alert

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Minnesota Orchestra

Photo by Greg Helgeson

The Detroit Orchestra went on strike for six months.

The Philadelphia Orchestra declared bankruptcy.

Such stories of orchestras under financial stress are on the minds of close to a thousand people in the Twin Cities this week for the annual League of American Orchestras conference.

In fact, this morning’s plenary session is titled “Red Alert!” Here’s the description:

The warning signals have been there for years: persistent deficits, less-than-packed houses; concerned patrons and funders questioning continued support, communities that are changing and asking more of us than we ably deliver; and too many concerts that are not aligned with the changing nature of demand.

Despite great sacrifices from musicians and staffs, and stepped up giving from boards and volunteers, too many orchestras–though not all, for sure–are in critical condition. We can and must act–first by speaking openly and frankly about our challenges, and next, by looking deeply at how we operate.

You can find out more about the conference, and about the challenges orchestras face, by listening to Euan Kerr’s report:

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