German orchestra gets bailout pledge

The Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, conducted by the American Eugene Tzigane, has been given three year’s breathing space by the town of Minden after running into financial crisis. It’s being paraded as a good news story, but in the small print the town will actually reduce its subsidy from 146,000 Euros to 81,000 and the orchestra will have to find the rest from private sources.

Where do we think these guys are going?

Photo: Joachim Grothus, Bielefeld

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  • The overall running costs of an orchestra in London are in the region of €9.5m.
    Presumably they are lower in a regional band, but equally we’re told the Germans look after their regional musicians very well, so maybe the salaries are higher even if the workload is less.
    It’s likely that the costs are at least 2/3rds of a London band, so around €6.5m. That makes a reduction from the Town of €65,000 a drop in funding by just 1%, something which will be unwelcome but should hardly cause a massive problem, I would have thought?

  • The story is a little more complicated. The Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie has some 20 communities and other public authorities funding the orchestra. Problem one: the public budgets are running deficits. Problem two: communities are almost under pressure to balance the budget by cutting arts and culture.
    The main problem: If one of these public stakeholders reduces its contibution some others are discussing the same scenario. This is the disadvantage of having many public funders in Germany.

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