The Chronicle of Philanthropy has an overview of the CSO’s financial crisis. The article appears in the journal’s Jan. 15 issue. It doesn’t offer much that’s new if you’ve been tracking developments at City Paper and The Post and Courier. But it does offer a coherent synopsis of how the orchestra got into this situation, why, and how it plans to get out of it. Of note is this nut-graph, summing up something I’ve learned over the years — the reason American arts organizations struggle financially is more likely the result of bad internal decisions (or non-decisions) than some kind of out-of-one’s-control malaise in the greater culture. In other words, it’s fixable.

… its leaders say that the way the organization was managed while times were good left it vulnerable to a decelerating economy: The orchestra had operating losses in five of the last six years, signed a five-year contract with musicians that locked in high fixed costs, conducted periodic “save the orchestra” campaigns that alienated donors, and spent meager sums on marketing and fund raising while undertaking an ambitious artistic program.


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