Imagine that you are in charge of a company during these hard economic times, and you are told by your financial advisers and colleagues that you have to make some tough cuts in order to keep it floating. Your responsibility is to bring down a 1.5 trillion dollar deficit, a bit over one-hundredth of one percent of your budget. And imagine knowing that such a cut would basically shut down what most people consider not a luxury, but a necessity, especially in hard times. Would you say, "Yeah, go ahead, do it"?
Well, that's what has recently been the talk of the town among our legislators, who make decisions for a "company" called USA, in regard to cutting down the National Endowment for the Arts. Now, you may say that the NEA sometimes uses its funds to support things you, or I, or just about nobody considers art and many other more concrete things in our life (like sports scores for example) is in the eye of the beholder. But, even if you say you don't care for art at all, you have no use for it in your life, and we need to make sure our cities survive these crises. So, if you don't care to feed not just the mouths but also the souls of our fellow citizens, let's just talk sheer numbers: the Arts are responsible for bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to cities in which they thrive, and lead to over $5.7 jobs annually. In the Baltimore area alone, all things put together, BSO's contribution to the region's coffers is estimated about $18 million!
On Wednesday, we had about 20 very special people on the Meyerhoff stage with us during our rehearsal of Brahms' Second Symphony. What makes them special is that they commit to the BSO not only financially (and very generously), but also in so many other ways. They are BSO's Governing Members, and they go out of their way and organize fun gatherings in order to meet us, get to know us personally, and help us stay afloat. They spread the word about what we do, bring people to concerts, and organize fun and lucrative fund raising events (see Bolt for the BSO, coming up this fall). They are the ones that really care about the music, many of them know it well, and also know that without them we wouldn't be here.
Dear Legislators, please don't let people like that be the alone in keeping our cities in the black. We all deserve better.
And now, let's forget the numbers and talk music: this week's concerts are sure to move your soul, with some great masterpieces led by a conductor new to the BSO, Cornelius Meister, who is bringing the best in us. The program includes Bruch's rarely heard Violin Concerto #2, with our great Concertmaster, Jonathan Carney. See you there.