Monday, September 24, 2007

FL Orchestra faces restraints

National trends favoring privatization (for example of prisons, social services, and hospitals) added together with tax cuts driven by conservative fiscal principles, which have caused cuts in spending especially in Florida where Republicans lead. Such budget restraints are trickling down to cultural and community expenditures such as parks, social services, non-profits, and the arts. These trends are traveling a road our local communities must avoid. In Tampa Bay, there is an essential need to balance priority amongst municipal and social services in addition to investment in cultural enhancement that in turn bring tourism dollars including attracting newcomers generating tax revenue. Tampa Bay is no New York, San Francisco or Miami however being situated along the I-4 corridor and the bay it possesses such potential. The restraints surfacing within the Florida Orchestra is an alarming economic indicator. Tampa Bay without a doubt is in a well-built position supportive of a thriving arts sector.

The Florida Orchestra is a strapping cultural pillar within Florida and its wealth of Arts; supported by a modest endowment valued at $10 million. Orchestra musicians now as stated in the St. Pete Times “are far from harmony on a contract. There is no labor contract between the musicians and board of directors, as a result orchestra members voted to give its negotiation committee the authority to call a strike if that was deemed necessary. The Orchestra’s board is pushing to cut expenses from its budget. The musicians payroll is the largest part of the budget.” Sources say approximately $450,000 federal, state and local government funding was slashed from the Orchestra’s overall budget.

Source: St. Pete Times 09/20/07

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