As you head into the weekend, here's some reading on the troubling state of things at the Nashville Symphony, which announced last week that it would not renew a line of credit on around $100 million in debt, putting its financial circumstances into plain view.
From this week's Scene, John Pitcher with a longer take on things:
Disturbingly, the symphony's letter to its patrons also hinted that the matter could wind up in bankruptcy court. Kevin Crumbo, a board member and treasurer for the NSO, said that worst-case scenario would likely be a last resort. For now, the NSO expects no interruptions in its operation.
"What happened was our original business plan did not work out the way we thought, so there was only a slim chance that we would have been able to pay back the entire debt on schedule," Crumbo says. "We felt it would have been irresponsible for us to run out of cash later, so we decided we needed to renegotiate the debt right now. We need to deal with that debt as part of a comprehensive financial restructuring."
Since moving into the acoustically marvelous concert hall in 2006, the NSO has received critical acclaim — not to mention seven Grammy Awards — for the quality of its performances and its innovative programming. The orchestra under the direction of Giancarlo Guerrero has become a leading champion of contemporary American music. In fact, next year the orchestra will present the world premiere of a new piano concerto by pop star (and NSO board member) Ben Folds.
As the orchestra was winning kudos, however, its financial troubles were mounting. Some of the initial problems were ascribed to the normal growing pains associated with moving into a new and complex symphony hall. "We learned that some things were going to be more expensive than we initially thought," Valentine says. "But we were not in a crisis in the beginning."
And from The City Paper, a look at how the situation could affect the orchestra's musicians. (Pitcher addresses this in his Scene piece as well, in which NSO president and CEO Alan Valentine indicates that he'd like to avoid looking for savings in the players' contracts.)
J.R. Lind's Weekly Obsession addresses the Symphony as well, but you'll have to pick up the dead-tree CP for that.