Pittsburgh Symphony Tries To Sell Concert Hall

Strapped for cash, the Pittsburgh Symphony is trying to sell its home – Heiz Hall – for $40 million. “That amount would erase the symphony’s pending deficit and revive its falling endowment, which has dropped from $132 million in 2000 to $90 million. The plunge is due to the stock market and a 6.5 percent annual draw that goes into the symphony’s budget. The symphony, which has owned Heinz Hall for 32 years, wants the new owner to lease the structure back to it at a very nominal rate. Sources said that token gesture called for $1 annual rent. The problem is finding a buyer.”

Is The Chicago Symphony’s Plight Dire?

Jeremy Grant reports that the Chicago Symphony’s financial fortunes are precarious and worrisome. “Due to factors mostly out of [music director Daniel] Barenboim’s control, the CSO faces possibly the most serious financial crisis in its 112-year history. With the US economy in recession, ticket sales are flat and subscriptions are falling. Plunging stock market values have eroded the value of the orchestra’s endowment fund and new corporate and individual sponsorships have all but dried up. This year’s budget is likely to balance, but only because of a one-off draw-down from the endowment. Management predicts the orchestra is likely to swing into a deficit of about $4m-$5m (£2.5m-£3.1m) next year, having slumped to $6.1m in 2002.”

Spoken Traditions Into Pages

“The Hmong had a purely oral culture, with no form of writing until the 1950s, when Christian missionaries developed one using the Roman alphabet.” But for Mai Neng Moua, “raised and educated in the United States, it is the permanence and durability of words fastened into sentences and placed on a page that make sense of her life, her family’s history and a culture at a crossroads. Mai is among the first generation of Hmong to write about the history and give voice to contemporary Hmong experiences.” And she’s collected Hmong stories for a book, the first-ever anthology of Hmong-American writing.”

Making Pops Sing Again

Attendance for the Milwaukee Symphony’s pops concerts seems to be waning. Partly, its a problem of headlining stars who are getting older and appealing to fewer people. Many younger music stars just don’t seem right for the pops. Tom Strini proposes not getting rid of the pops, but reforming how the concerts are mounted…

St. Louis Symphony Digs Out

The St. Louis Symphony, which earlier this season said it was in danger of collapse if a major emergency fundraising campaign wasn’t successful, says it has raised three-quarters of the $40 million it needs to survive. “With $30 million pledged or in hand, the Symphony has 20 months left to bring in the remaining $10 million. But to be really healthy, the Symphony needs more than the $85 million to $90 million in endowment that it will have by the end of the campaign – somewhere more in the neighborhood of $150 million.”

McGreevey: New Funding Source For NJ Arts

New Jersey Governor James McGreevey says he’ll find a new dedicated sourse of funding for the arts. McGreevey had proposed eliminating arts funding altogether, but an intense statewide lobbying effort for the arts seems to have changed his mind. “The governor made the pledge Thursday during a private meeting with the leaders of several major arts institutions. While he did not specify any details about the funding source or how much money it might generate, administration officials have been considering plans to use a portion of proceeds from a proposed new hotel tax to fund the programs.”

A Rockin’ Good-time Feel-Good Movie In 25 Words Or Less

The British Film Council has “caused a stir with its announcement that it is paying £12,500 in development readies to young British film-makers on the basis of a Hollywood-style 25-word pitch. Four projects have been chosen to benefit from the public purse.” Twenty-five words? Just how do you go about selling a movie idea in 25 words? Imagine some classic movies pitched in a line or two…

Criticism As Conversation

Why is it that people expect reviews to have the absolute judgment on whether something was good or not? After a series of complaints about his critics’ critical judgments, the arts editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer [no byline on the online story] feels a little clarification is in order. “Criticism is an argument, done more or less intelligently, that presents years of accumulated experience with a certain rhetorical panache. It is an educated opinion whose point is to further a conversation.”