…because some thoughts are worth remembering
When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding
in favor of the war effort, he simply replied
“then what are we fighting for?”
One of the “rules” I use to assess where I am moving to is whether it has a symphonic orchestra or not. In absence of economic indices and survey results for “the most livable cities”, etc., a quick check to see if the city has a professional orchestra or not tells me what I need to know:
I initially decided Honolulu, Hawaii was a good fit for me to move to, partly because it had the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. It continued to face financial and operational challenges until it couldn’t take anymore and it was disbanded. By then many of my friends have moved onto other careers or other communities. Something in me broke. I was then asked at work if I were going to stay put in Honolulu because he remembered in my job interview that I mentioned the existence of a professional orchestra reflected positively about innovation and economic development, that I probably would not have moved to Honolulu if it didn’t have an orchestra. While inertia kept me happily employed in Hawaii, I observed some community members attempt to establish the orchestra again, this time as the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra.
With competition for our leisure time, even well-regarded orchestras are struggling to operate in the black, attract the younger generation while keeping true to its craft. I was hopeful but also concerned about its reboot attempt. The jury is still out (though other orchestra has come and gone) on the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, if it would truly be a phoenix that rose from the ashes or not.
Here are three questions that came to mind about maintaining a symphonic orchestra:
I can get my head around the first two. The third is a value proposition and a question of relevance, and it takes the whole community coming to the table together to address it.
Photo: A Motherwell art exhibition in Cheyenne, Wyoming, an unexpected treat in the middle of our US road trip.