Earlier this week, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra made two important announcements: they have a new Music Director, Brett Mitchell, which is fantastic news in and of itself. But even more exciting, from an operational standpoint, is the announcement that they are finally in the black!!
The CSO is certainly not alone in running at a long-standing deficit, so it is an awesome achievement for them to be finally above water. A cool $1.7 million worth here at the beginning of their 2016-17 season, no small feat to achieve!
Why is this important? Because these funds help ensure their continued survival and growth. The CSO is the grand poobah of the many orchestral groups here on the Front Range and its success is a win for all arts groups. This achievement shows that the community values the arts and is willing to invest in our cultural institutions.
Investing in the arts can be a hard sell in the face of income inequality, poverty, hunger, and other imperative human needs. But the arts bring an important, if admittedly mostly intangible, benefit to a community. A symphony or a work of art or a theatrical production all provide a way to express the inexpressible. They give us pleasure, they prompt us to question our society and ourselves, they inspire us to act. When words fail us, art is there to speak for us.
In sum, the (mostly corporate) patrons who have helped the CSO reach this milestone are giving a treasured institution the opportunity to grow and continue to express that which we cannot express ourselves. And to help support this mission, new Music Director Brett Mitchell is coming in at this pivotal time. I admit I wasn’t familiar with him before the announcement, but he seems like a pretty cool guy and brings extensive experience with him. Check out this introduction video:
As mentioned in both the press release and this nice summary from the Denver Business Journal, the CSO still has some major challenges on its plate. They are in the middle of a bitter dispute with the American Federation of Musicians. And the CSO will be changing homes sometime in the nearish future as the city redesigns the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, including the demolition of their current home at Boettcher Hall. Their hard-earned financial buffer will help them navigate these challenges and continue to provide us with many seasons of amazing music to come.
Now that you are all excited about the future of the CSO, we have even more good news! The new season starts this weekend, with Brahms and Richard Strauss conducted by Andrew Litton; tickets are available here. And should you now (hopefully) be inspired to further help them by donating, you can do so here.
Go forth and enjoy (and support!) your favorite local arts orgs–they need you as much as we need them!
Side note: When I was googling for good arts quotes, I came across the Lucy Liu quote. Looking to confirm its source (which I wasn’t able to do, so I apologize for any incorrect attribution), I discovered something I didn’t know about Lucy. Not only is she an entertaining actress, she’s an artist. You learn something new every day!
Yumi Pic: © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2009