I had and still have some reservations about posting that link. It would seem to make last ditch fund raising that much more difficult to have the WSJ run that in the local area.
Perhaps there are some common elements in why these different groups in diverse major cities are all having financial difficulty at the same time.
For one thing, I just wonder if ordinary people everywhere are tapped out since 2008 to the point they've cut back on buying tickets.
Another question is whether people are staying home and watching cheap DVDs. I forget when it happened, but in our area the appearance of the $1.00 overnight rental box put nearly every video rental store under. I wonder if DVDs have had a similar negative effect on ticket sales for live events.
edit: after further reading, there are several examples of symphonies in financial trouble. Here is a link to a 2008 study on the topic. With the economic downturn in 2008 affecting endowment income as well as disposable income of individuals, the factors discussed in the 2008 study are probably even worse today. http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/pac...f/Flanagan.pdf
2nd edit: Some may be reluctant to read a 108 page paper written by an economics professor. The first problem is that it's written in terms that an economics professor would use that tend to make a reader's eyes glaze over. [Note to Professor Flanagan: write so your intended audience will want to read your stuff.]
The next problem is the substance of the paper has been described by some as "provocative" and not necessarily "provocative" in the sense of provoking one to thought. It's provocative in the sense that it challenges some prevailing thoughts and practices. One of the hazards of writing any economic study is that some readers might not like what the author has reported.
A condensed summary would be that in studying major US orchestras, he found that few orchestras were able to meet expenses in the best of times. Hardly any were able to meet their ongoing operating costs from operating revenues with most dependent on supplemental donations and endowment income to stay in the black.
The paper was written in 2008 before the Great Recession which had the triple whammy effect (my words) of declining ticket sales, declining donations and declining endowment income. Meanwhile, ongoing operating costs have increased. No surprise there as it should be obvious that the costs of providing a living wage to an 80 member orchestra and the costs of having a place to perform haven't become any less expensive.
Other findings in the report have apparently not been well received. The report finds rising performance costs, declining attendance, decreased season ticket sales, overall decline in classical music listening, fundraising that does not pay for itself, and difficulty in garnering more ticket sales beyond a certain base.
Flanagan has published a followup book as well.
With so many orchestras having similar financial problems in different parts of the United States at the same time, one has to suspect there are common underlying causes. The fact that we don't like them doesn't make them any less real nor will they go away simply because we don't like them or argue with their existence.