Are Certain Cities’ Arts Communities Suffering More?

I just saw this headline about the Seattle Symphony on ArtsJournal:

Reinventing the Seattle Symphony, presto“: The troubled orchestra has run up an $11 million deficit, but it suddenly has a compelling strategy for turning things around. The goal: become “a contemporary orchestra.” There is nothing surprising per se about a symphony in financial trouble; in recent years, so many symphonies have been forced to close or re-consolidate due to rising labor costs, graying audiences, declining audience engagement, overly expensive buildings, and poor management.

But it reminded me of a serious hullabaloo/crisis that emerged in 2010/2011 around the Intiman Theater in Seattle, when they had to close for a season and let go of newly appointed Artistic Director Kate Whoriskey (on of my favorite theater directors–I still dream about her Bleak House at The Goodman in Chicago) due to a massive budget crisis.

It seems that several of Seattle’s leading arts organizations are suffering very intensely. I wonder if the local funding ecosystem (ugh) was unduly harmed by the Great Recession, or if there is a lack of strong Board members in the City (unlikely?), or is this just a coincidence of two cases of bad management. It’s probably just because Seattle is a mid-sized American city that lost jobs and was hit hard by the recession. But it smells funny to me.

Any Seattle-ians out there want to fill me in?

 

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