Friday, March 14, 2008
Margaret Elrod and Scott Green on finances and negotiations between the SSO board and musicians
Not unlike a myriad of symphony orchestras since 2001, the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra has found it difficult to operate at a break-even level. This is an era of challenge and change within the arts and culture industry, when the very definition of arts and culture has been called into question with the emerging popularity of the likes of American Idol and Amateur Night at the Apollo.
The Shreveport Symphony has operated at a break even level only twice in the past six years. Following an operating loss of more than $700,000 in FY 01, the orchestra has accumulated another $500,000 in losses over six years. This caused the Symphony to transfer funds from the endowment. The Orchestra now finds itself in a place where endowment transfers are not available to fund continued losses. The Symphony has been told by two outside consulting firms that it has no choice but to look immediately and realistically at revising operations to secure its future.
A long-range plan designed to create a more financially stable organization is imperative. With the support of a grant designated specifically to support a new plan and a gift from an anonymous donor, the Symphony is moving forward with a financially feasible and sustainable plan.
"Analyzing where budget cuts can be made, what the Shreveport-Bossier community wants from a symphony and what it will realistically pay for is an inherently difficult situation,” said board president Margaret Elrod. “Faced with net assets and debt that demands serious consideration in order to secure the future of the organization and the added stress of negotiations over a revised Collective Bargaining Agreement, it is almost a given that tempers will flare and there will be misunderstandings and accusations on both sides of the equation,” added Elrod.
Because of the length of the release and complexity of the SSO board's explanations of the negotiations process, please continue your appreciation for the situation at shreveportsymphony.com.