The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has responded to the emotional appeal by Robert Spano and Donald Runnicles with a bland set of bromides. The two conductors had warned that the ASO management was fostering an ‘unhealthy’ situation by threatening another lock-out. This is all Stanley Romanstein’s management team could come up with by way of response:
The full statement in response from ASO management:
We fully agree with the sentiments expressed in the letter from Mr. Spano and Mr. Runnicles.
– We recognize that the musicians have made significant sacrifices in the last two years to help the ASO’s finances, as have many ASO staff members over many years. We are thankful for them all.
– We agree that the high musical standards and aspirations of the ASO are critically important and should not be compromised.
– We agree that it takes time to bring about sustainable change.
-Most of all, we agree that a work stoppage is not in the best interests of anyone associated with the ASO.
– But neither is the continuation of operating deficits that have been on-going for 12 years nor the consequences they bring. They have led to concerns from our donors and a precipitous decline in our endowment.
– Finally, we believe there are solutions that will allow the ASO management and musicians to balance the artistic and financial needs of the orchestra for the long term.
Our man on the spot adds:
If you want to find the real financial problems, investigate the umbrella organization, Woodruff Arts Center, where the pressure to downsize the orchestra is coming from. Take a look at the Moody’s rating for the Arts Center. In November it was affirmed at “A2” but its outlook downgraded from “stable” to “negative.” There are $118 million in outstanding bonds. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is merely a “doing business as” name for a division of Woordruff Arts Center, which is the actual 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit institution, and which also includes d/b/a divisions “High Museum,” “Alliance Theatre,” and “Young Audiences, Woodruff ArtsCenter”.