Why are so many orchestras and musicians around the world under pressure in these days? In the Netherlands recent budget cuts begin to bite. Orchestras are closing down, musicians loose their jobs or do face severe pay cuts. The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) has fired some musicians (mostly from Europe) without any explanation. In Italy orchestra musicians are by law not longer allowed to do additional work, to play gigs or chamber music, to teach pupils or to have masterclasses. In Spain the Liceu (Barcelona) has been trying to close doors for two months during the running season to save money. In Germany the South West Public Radio (SWR) wants to merge its two major orchestras (100 posts each) in Freiburg and Stuttgart. A couple of other German orchestras are facing cuts, too. There are more examples from the UK, the US and other countries.
Has anyone an explanation for these developments? Of course the local circumstances are very different. In some South European countries the financial crisis jeopardizes the arts budgts, too. But it’s not only a question of lack of money. The really scary thing is, that in most of these cases the artists, the musicians and sometimes even the managements are almost victims of incompetence of the board, the arts aministration or the politicians in charge.
Is there any insurance, any toolbox for a better perfomance during a crisis? One of course is the solidarity between the artists themselves. Another one is the efficient support from the audiences. A third component is the public opinion which is influenced by the media, more and more by social media like blogs, twitter and facebook. There is still a restraint to be observed how orchestras, managements and musicians use social media as well as lobbying tools to safeguard their own interests. Even a more active and sometimes agressive communication for the orchestra goals must be considered (see the pictured example from Serbia).
Those orchestras in which management and musicians stay together, work together and act together will be stronger and even more successfull than others. This needs confidence, respect, communication, participation and motivation. If there are front lines within the orchestra itsself, the battle will be lost.