Tuesday, October 20, 2009

From Canada, an inquiry about Shreveporters and the recent Shreveport Symphony Orchestra

I don't want to step into a hornet's nest, writes a fellow identified as Stephan, but I have heard about the SSO's financial plight over the last year. I lived in Shreveport for 10 years, and during that time I had the great pleasure to attend many performances put on by the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra.

I am currently living in Winnipeg, MB, Canada, with a population 1.7x that of Shreveport-Bossier, and we enjoy the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO). In 2008 the WSO maintained 67 core players and had a main subscription series of 12 concerts, a 6-concert series in Brandon, a 21-concert pops series, and Musically Speaking and Sundays with the Family series of five concerts each. The overall budget of the WSO is upwards of $6.1 million annually. By population, this would be equivalent to $3.5 million for the metropolis of Shreveport-Bossier or $3.3 million USD.

Your SSO needs a new marketing plan that will draw enough subscribers and corporate donors in order to meet the portion of the budget that would support paying 25 core musicians. A full-time salary for each musician with benefits should be $26,000 plus $5,000 benefits (20%)= $31,000 ea. x 25 = $775,000 for the total core budget. The current rate of pay per core musician in 2007-'08 was only $17,880.25.

If you divide the core budget above by the population of Shreveport-Bossier City that comes to only $2.06 per citizen... just a paltry sum! Come on Shreveport-Bossier, you can do better than to let your only professional orchestra slide into oblivion.

Support your musicians, people of Shreveport-Bossier!

6 comments:

musiciansforever said...

To Stephan, I just wrote a very nice "thank you" to you for your comments and concerns about the musicians of the Shreveport Symphony. We are alive and well and busy. Rather than recreate my previous post which just disappeared from the screen, please, take a look at the following online sites:

the OPUS website - Orchestra Players United of Shreveport - Bossier www.shreveportmusicians.org/ and

my blogsite for all musicians and our supporters
www.shreveportmusicians4ever.blogspot.com/

and, of course, Robert Trudeau's blogsite.
shreveport.blogspot.com

BTW, the base salary for the 07-08 season was actually $12,693, not $17,880, and the rate for Principal players has always been higher than base. But I certainly DO like the figures you mentioned in your comments! $31,000!

Best to you and enjoy YOUR WSO. Your season is a varitable potpourri and most enviable.

Kathryn Usher said...

Canada? Isn't that that backwards country with health for everyone? Apparently I live in America because I want to support the medical fat cats instead of culture.

I should have one of those bumper stickers that says "Screw art. I donate all my money to the American medical system." And yes, I have insurance.

Hey, my working woman dollar can only go so far...medicine or culture, which will it be today? Sigh. I think this is a much bigger issue than just support for arts and culture. It's about the squeeze of folks who used to have the money to give but now have to hoard it to buy little pills..

skol_fir said...

musiciansforever said...

>>"thank you" to you for your comments and concerns about the musicians of the Shreveport Symphony.

You are most welcome. I have been very involved in the world of music for all of my life, beginning with listening to my father's mostly classical record collection, probably even before I was born!

>>BTW, the base salary for the 07-08 season was actually $12,693, not $17,880, and the rate for Principal players has always been higher than base. But I certainly DO like the figures you mentioned in your comments! $31,000!

I obtained the figure $17,880 from one of your musicians' blogs. I just can't remember where, but it probably referred to the base + all the benefits. Maybe it was pre-2000, which would make sense since your base salary has been slipping ever since due to the strange business practices of your management. I think that the whole board was misled by a person or person(s) who have no understanding of what makes a symphony click.

I would like to add that I recently improved the entry for "Shreveport Symphony Orchestra" at Wikipedia.org, as I happen to be a Contributing Editor there. Please let me know if I missed something, and I could add it. I tried to remain neutral, since an encyclopedia is usually unbiased.

skol_fir said...

Kathryn Usher said...

>>Canada? Isn't that that backwards country with health for everyone? Apparently I live in America because I want to support the medical fat cats instead of culture.

That is a very good point. I have experienced the American way of health care as an employee in Shreveport for 10 years. Fortunately for me, the plan I had was manageable, even with a family to support.

However, I have to say that we probably have a higher income tax in Canada, and that is why we have been able to support a universal health care system. There is more disposable income in the U.S., but that doesn't help those who have to undergo expensive medical treatment and become bankrupt as a result.

I agree with you, that art should be supported as a necessary part of a vigorous, engaged society, and not relegated to second place behind health.

skol_fir said...

The much improved portal for the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra on the free encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is now available at the following address:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shreveport_Symphony_Orchestra

We have Robert Trudeau to thank for the striking photograph that depicts the talented and dedicated Shreveport orchestra members in action :)

Steve said...

I really enjoyed hearing the Shreveport Symphony many times while being displaced up there. They are SUCH a good orchestra. Shreveport loves its arts, and is SO lucky to have a great orchestra full of dedicated big time pros there. I brag about them all the time, now that I'm back home in New Orleans.