Symphony Saga Continues


At the extraordinary meeting of the Symphony Board held May 16th, 2012,  to discuss the possible dissolution of the symphony organization and orchestra it was decided to call for nominations for a new board to address the issues. Nominations were called for and some behind the scenes discussions elicited a number of possible candidates. A week after this meeting Hans Dekker stepped down as the president of the organization.

The meeting of June 6, 2012 at the Knox Presbyterian Church was convened to move forward with the nominations. To ensure that the membership and the candidates fully understood the present situation a brief financial statement was tabled. A thumbnail sketch (my interpretation of the discussion) of the financials indicated the following:

  • $12,000 in the bank
  • $21,000 in additional grants on the way
  • $24,000 liability for the costs of the June “free” concert.
  • There are additional liabilities
  • Probable deficit of around $15,000
  • As a cost cutting measure the General Manager position of the Symphony will be  terminated.

The following new board members were nominated, seconded and accepted

  • Laurel Ralston
  • Michael Grossman
  • Lorraine Butler
  • Terry Lynn Jeffers
  • Aura Pon (Calgary)
  • Ian Adams
  • Steen Jorgenson
  • Ruth Sawatsky
  • Shirley Hansen
  • Sven Heyde
  • Patrick Hederly (?)
  • Rob MacDonald
  • Karen Clark (Secretary)

Following discussion of the proposed June 22, 2012 concert at the St. Eugene Mission resort the meeting was adjourned. Following the general meeting the new board convened to elect officers and presumably discuss strategies to deal with the situation.

Now comes the personal commentary and opinion. For some idea of the complexity of organizing a symphony season go to the Journalism tab of this blog and look at the article that was printed in the Townsman in October 2010. The resignation of Hans Dekker as president was noted in this meeting but no vote of thanks or appreciation of his efforts were tabled. This needs to be addressed. Prior to Hans’ efforts and the newspaper article predicting the demise of the symphony the organization was on the ropes. As near as I can tell board membership immediately prior to the crisis was at minimal levels and membership interest was pretty passive. Following the crisis the attendance at the special emergency meeting was around 60 and those in attendance were passionate in their support of the symphony. The organization needs to formally thank Hans for generating this amount of interest, support and discussion. We may not have like to hear what he had to say but it was very important that it was said before it was too late to act. Having said all that it should be noted that the attendance at this June meeting had slid to around forty. Is that an indicator of how the community truly values the symphony? One can anticipate that once the emotions cool attendances at the general meetings will probably continue to slide.

As I see it the major challenge to face the symphony will be the building of audiences. A substantial increase in audiences will lead to increase funding possibilities, particularly from the corporate sector. Without a very substantial increase in audiences every thing is moot. The continued support of the symphony is an expensive proposition and one can still wonder and question the ethics of such relatively large expenditures of public money for such small audience returns. I think the survival of the symphony as part of a diverse cultural environment is very important. It adds to the attractiveness of the area  that in turn is a factor in recruiting progressive professionals and business interests needed to grow the community.


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