How WSO Will Help Eddie
Geez. Call it the W.E. Symphony Orchestra and the County would kick in half! This idea should get me a pair of complimentary tickets to the next concert.
At least the Star on this matter has given us both sides of the issue so that citizens can be properly informed. If only they had done that on more City questions, we would not be in the mess we are in today!
The Star Editorial took one side and explained why we should not:
- "While we appreciate the cultural value the WSO provides for many people in the City of Windsor, we don't believe it's the City of Windsor's responsibility to keep it afloat."
Anne Jarvis on the Editorial page had an even bigger column and took the other side and explained why we should:
- "But when council, also wrestling with plunging revenue, considers the orchestra's request Monday for a $300,000 interest-free loan, it needs to understand this: the WSO isn't a liability.
The highly regarded orchestra, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year, and its dynamic conductor John Morris Russell are one of Windsor's great assets. Like our beautiful riverfront and our winning Spitfires (for whom we just built a $71-million arena), the symphony breathes life into our community."
At least now, there can be an informed debate about whether taxpayer money should be loaned to the Symphony.
They need to get the money to pay for the rent increase that St. Clair College has imposed on them because the Cleary is suffering losses. St. Clair does have the right to give the Cleary back to the City, something that our Mayor desperately wants to avoid. Accordingly, given his quote in the Star, Eddie has made it clear to Councilors what they had ALL better do!
I wonder if he will speak first again in this debate as he did with the Undevelopment Commission matter so his position is clearly articulated or whether it will be necessary for him to speak at all. I would think that he would only do so if it looks like he might lose the vote. THAT cannot be allowed. People might think that he lost control of Council the way that Mike Hurst did after March, 2003.
Whether it will be exactly $300,000 or not or what the terms of the “loan” will be are the only outstanding matters. That allows the Councillors to play their games to make it appear as if they are being tough on the Arts community in this time of economic restraint.
Why I can picture already watching on TV a certain Councillor bristling as he asks his questions designed to demonstrate that he was a budget analyst in his former life. Just watch as he asks the questions as he listens to the sound of his own voice. I wonder if he really cares what the answers are.
He had better not say too much because then he is attacking the foundation of our Mayor’s knowledge-based industry mantra. He does not want the Windsor Star mad at him in case he runs for Mayor if Eddie decides not to do so.
I wonder if Councillor Loopy will do something to try to justify the fact that he supported that the City contribute to the study on the Armouries. Had he undertaken due diligence on their financial position at the time, he might have questioned the need for the study in the first place.
- "A request for a $300,000 interest-free loan for the Windsor Symphony Orchestra has struck a sour note with city councillor Ken Lewenza Jr. He doesn't think it's the best use of city resources. He says he'd find it difficult to believe that, after the difficult budget session that council has gone through, such a request could be granted."
Just so that you do not have to bore yourself watching Cogeco on Monday, here’s what the Symphony people will say to justify the money being given to them. It’s a good story and frankly it’s a shame that it is being politicized.
The WSO is only asking for an amount of 10% of the $3 Million plus sponsorship money that Red Bull is getting for a weekend of air racing. Perhaps while Eddie is making his phone calls to get that sponsorship cash he might also try and get a few bucks for the Symphony.
- “For Immediate Release
City Loan Critical Component of WSO Stabilization Plan
(Windsor, ON—February 26, 2009) An interest-free $300,000 loan from the City of Windsor is a key element in the Windsor Symphony Orchestra’s financial stabilization plan. The request will be made on Monday, March 2.
The City of Windsor is the orchestra’s single largest supporter, providing an annual operating grant of $300,000, which reflects the organization’s important role in the region’s cultural and educational infrastructures.
Developed in November 2008, the stabilization plan identifies cost savings for the coming season, many of which have already been implemented. The orchestra’s focus on high quality programming will be maintained, although the number and scale of offerings will be reduced.
The loan, which is scheduled to be repaid over ten years is for the same amount and under the same terms as those governing a loan made to the organization twenty years ago when it was confronted by similar financial challenges. That loan was repaid to the city in full and on time.
“In my view, the team at the WSO has learned from experience,” states Katherine Carlton, Executive Director, Orchestras Canada, “they have identified the issues they face, and they’ve developed a credible plan to move forward while remaining accessible to all of Windsor’s citizens. What they need now is the time - and the cash-flow - to implement their plan.”
Total attendance and box office income are on track to achieve record levels this season. Ticket sales, however, account for less than 29 percent of total revenue.
In 2008 the world-wide financial meltdown caused a dramatic reduction in interest earnings from the WSO’s endowment funds. Contributions from individuals, businesses and foundations were also down due to economic conditions. As a result, what had been a balanced annual operating budget was almost immediately subject to unanticipated pressure, which led to the development of the stabilization plan.
“Like many other performing arts organization in Canada, the WSO has been achieving amazing things on razor-thin margins,” adds Carlton, “and with almost two-thirds of their annual revenues coming from ticket sales, corporate and individual support, the WSO has been quick to feel the impact of the economic downturn”.
Musicians support plan
“I can assure you we are all working together to find every possible avenue of cost savings,” states Greg Sheldon, Orchestra Member and Chair of the Musicians Negotiations Committee, “the arts are currently being affected like every other industry, and, like so many others, we are all making sacrifices. But now, more so than ever, it's imperative that Windsor maintains its support for the arts.”
Integral part of this community
In addition to being a symbol of pride and quality of life in Windsor and Essex County, the WSO employs more than 50 professional musicians and administrative staff. It is a valuable educational resource for the entire region, as well as a core attraction in cultural tourism initiatives and regional development marketing efforts.
During the current season, the orchestra will enrich the lives of more than 50,000 citizens of Windsor, Essex County and beyond, including more than 10,000 school children. The orchestra will stage 63 concerts, 77 small ensemble performances and 46 school and family programs.
The orchestra’s December 6 world premier of Brent Lee’s “Ruck and Rill” has already received two national broadcasts on CBC Radio 2. Last season the Canada Council for the Arts’ Vida Peene Award was granted to the WSO for artistic excellence and the orchestra’s popular CD “Peter and the Wolf”, narrated by Colm Feore, was nominated for a Juno Award.
The WSO’s partnerships and initiatives include creative collaborations with the Windsor Classic Chorale, Windsor Light Musical Theatre, the Windsor Dance Experience and the University Of Windsor School Of Music. Orchestra members also participate in musical therapy efforts for Pediatric Oncology patients. Of particular importance is the Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra, which was initiated in 2005 and provides an invaluable musical experience to 55 gifted students annually.
The contributions of WSO musicians to the region are far-reaching. Their work with the orchestra provides the base from which they branch out individually as performers and teachers. These gifted professionals enrich lives and nurture talent throughout our community.”