New Danish minister aims to abolish radio orchestras

The Danish culture minister Mette Bock, 100 days in office, is proposing to disband the DR orchestras and choruses, sell the concert hall and redefine the state broadcaster as a pure media company.

She said the musicians could be reallocated to the Royal Theatre.

It would be, she added, a ‘beautiful sight.’

Denmark often comes top on the world’s happiest country index.

Not for musicians. Every year they confront some new political anxiety.

 

UPDATE:

This is more complicated than it looks. Ms Bock wants to remove the orchestra from DR and place them under the management of the Royal Theatre (which is always short of funds).

In addition, she is proposing to redistribute funds and musicians from the Copenhagen Philharmonic to other orchestras around the country – Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg and Sønderborg.

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
  • And the orchestra and choir are NOT there to create media content, e.g. recordings and broadcasts? Isn’t that their main purpose to begin with?
    Something is rotten in the state of Denmark!

  • Shocking….. but not surprising. Such burbs of commercial populism don’t come out of the blue, they have been fostering for years, possibly decennia, growing on the increasing mood of rejection of art in general by ‘the masses’. Politicians see in this mood a chance to ride on the waves of enthusiasm to break down ‘elitism’ and of course, orchestras and opera houses are the obvious, vulnerable targets. Small, petit-bourgeois countries like Denmark and Holland are especially prone to such cultural self-destruction because they don’t have a strong European tradition to preserve. The safest fundament of their national identity is ‘the masses’. Anything above that level is ‘the enemy’. It is strange though, that politicians, in fact, say to the world: ‘We Danes / Dutch are mere garden gnomes and we are proud of it!’

    • Mette Bock reminded me of Trump’s choice for administrator for the Environment, Scott Pruitt, who fought the very institution for years and denies climate change.
      “Get the fox to keep the geese” springs to mind…

      • The Danes apparently have been particularly “blessed” in the last years with governments and particularly culture ministers, which in fact have acted as culture destruction ministers. What kind of culture to they aspire to? Rock festivals with free mud for everybody? Do they foresee new pills by the traditionally strong Danish pharmaceutical industry, that replaces any cultural endeavors with eternal happiness and hallucinations of free ice cream for everybody?

        • They clearly ought to change their tactic. Denmark is already in the world’s top 5 regarding the consumption of antidepressants eternal happiness pills, and so far it seems a poor substitute for cultural endeavours.

  • Well the groundbreaking and innovative copenhagen philharmonic will definitely be abolished by this plan..neoliberalist policies have starved the entire danish public sector for decades to a point where they cant get in tax revenues due to lack of employees. What has the world come to?

  • Her party is the Liberal Alliance. A recent slogan for this party was: “A vote for Liberal Alliance is a vote for free hashish.” Maybe hashish is more effective than Wagner…

    • The difference is that to be intoxicated by Wagner requires some musical sensitivity, while hashish does not require anything but preparedness. Ergo: hashish is more democratic.

      Legalizing soft drugs is motivated by the wish to reduce crime rates, and as long as Wagner music does not lead to spill-over crime from the operas’ plots (contract breach, murder, incest, kidnapping, animal slaughter without anestesia, etc. etc.), it remains legal.

      • “The difference is that to be intoxicated by Wagner requires some musical sensitivity”

        Yes, but not that much IMO. The main requirement is a little patience and an open mind. It is unfortunate if people are being led to believe that a music degree or a background immersed in music is a prerequisite.

        A lot of great music can appeal on many levels simultaneously and provide a lifetime of pleasure. Something that (again, IMO) certain modern composers seem to have forgotten, or never knew in the first place.

          • I rather enjoy Boulez and Carter – spent several hours this weekend with Carter’s “Double Concerto” and Boulez’ “sir incises.” Isn’t there room for every kind of listening experience, especially to music that truly requires commitment from musicians and listeners alike?
            But to your point: yes, the listening/consuming public has been fed a steady diet of simplistic pap for years now and no longer recognize art as anything requiring actual skill – again, either as performer or listener – so eventually this public will request less of what it neither appreciates not understands. There’s your progressive society, folks.

  • Looks like the minister wants to eradicate culture alltogether. Something is very foul indeed…

  • This blog is good for nothing if not drumming up hysterical worry or anger about something due to misreporting, lazy analysis, or incomplete understanding. Or, as frequently happens, a combination of the three.

  • This is again a fatal & totally wrong idea of cultural policy made in beautiful Denmark.

    When do politics understand that culture is economic attractive factor for locational advantage.

    For every 1 Euro you invest in culture (for example a Theater) you get a result multiplied with x 3 = 3 Euro.

    Also music itself is not a luxurious entertainment, it is education for everyone of us & connects tradition with our contemporary society issues.

    In Blaibach/ Bavaria in Germany a modern concerthouse was build during a period of just one year.
    Blaibach got transformed from a death + unknown village to a modern village of the 21th with prosperity + international flair.

    Watch this link for further infos:
    http://konzert-haus.de/das-konzerthaus/

    Show this your new minister and fight for your marvelous Radio Orchestra & Radio Choir.

    Kind regards.

  • The proposal actually makes a lot of sense. Here’s why:

    The Danish Radio slaughtered their chamber orchestra and their chief conductor Adam Fischer two years ago from one day to another, without any warning or any proper reasons. The decision was even – scandalously – backed up by the former minister of culture of the left wing government, Marianne Jelved, who ignored the majority of the parliament’s demand to force the Danish Radio to keep the orchestra (they actually executed a plan saving twice as much as they were required to, so keeping the orchestra would have been the easiest thing in the world).

    Now, these exorbitant state owned media companies are rapidly closing in on their expiry date. The whole media market is vastly different today than it was back in the ’80s and ’90s, and the Danish Radio is becoming increasingly irrelevant for every day. Yes, it will probably still be there in 10 years, but it will for sure look much different than it does today. Already 25% cuts for the next few years have been discussed, and it’s naive to trust these changes will not affect the symphony orchestra substantially.

    For those two reasons – an unpredictable management and an unpredictable future – cutting ties to the Danish Radio is probably the best way to ensure the future of the ensemble as the national symphony orchestra, instead of leaving it up to the management of a journalistic institution that has demonstrated such an unbelievable lack of sense as they did with Adam Fischer’s orchestra.

    Bear in mind, the minister of culture does not want to make any cuts in the orchestra’s budget. It’s not a question of saving money, rather of saving an orchestra.

    Regarding the axing Copenhagen Phil, the problem is that there’re five regional orchestras in Denmark, and they’ve suffered so many financial cuts during the years that some of them are really hanging on by their fingernails to survive, and they can barely play the music they’re being asked to because they don’t have the personnel anymore. The ambition here is to redistribute every single position in the Copenhagen Phil and reinforce the remaining four orchestras so they can be brought back to a proper size.

    Is that a good solution? No, it’s a compromise, but considering Copenhagen Phil has been specifically threatened ever since Uffe Elbæk served as minister of culture for the left wing government before Jelved, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. By the way, one of Elbæk’s top priorities during his election campaign was actually to shut down an orchestra, believe it or not!

    I have no idea how these plans will be carried out, but I believe it’s fair to emphasize that for once this is not, if we look at the way it’s been presented, another attempt to save money on culture.

    • You completely ignore what the essential link of being within DR means for the radio orchestra to reach about 100.000 listeners in the whole country every week. The audience in the hall is minuscule compared to their media audience, about 1.500 ticket buyers for each concert.
      If you take them out of Denmark’s Radio, you rob them off their media presence and their founding purpose. Their legally dedicated purpose is to produce media content for the whole country. Not to give concerts. Those concerts have the purpose to produce live recordings first of all. Only secondary is their purpose as a cultural aggregator for the Copenhagen region.
      It is very common, that musicians and management do not understand this, because they only recognize audience they actually can see. duh!

      The much better strategy to pursue is this:
      If Mette Bock is honest about not wanting to save money but to restructure to save the orchestra from further cutting within DR, then two things need to be secured:

      1.) keeping the link to the media production house fully intact and thriving

      2.) securing the financing long term to have stable artistic planning and development conditions which are essential for any ambitious symphony orchestra that wants to play in the international league.

      It can easily be done, by taking the DR Ensembles out of the contract the government avery four (?) years negotiates with DR. Four years is insanity for a symphony orchestra. They need generational contracts, not temporary ones, in order to be excellent.
      So the government should do a separate contract with DR as far as the orchestras and choirs are concerned, securing their financing for a longer period, e.g. 20 years.
      And within that contract simultaneously also force DR to actually produce media content with these ensembles in all current formats, radio, TV, internet streaming, and distribute it to the whole country. Which is the main purpose of these ensembles to begin with.

      Your proposal will first rob these orchestras and choirs off their vast media audience and then eventually starve and possibly kill them.

    • You completely ignore what the essential link of being within DR means for the radio orchestra to reach about 100.000 listeners in the whole country every week they have concerts which are broadcast live and rebroadcast later. The audience in the hall is minuscule compared to their media audience, about 1.500 ticket buyers for each concert.
      If you take them out of Denmark’s Radio, you rob them off their media presence and their founding purpose. Their legally dedicated purpose is to produce media content for the whole country. Not to give concerts. Those concerts have the purpose to produce live recordings first of all. Only secondary is their purpose as a cultural aggregator for the Copenhagen region.
      It is very common, that musicians and management do not understand this, because they only recognize audience they actually can see. duh!

      The much better strategy to pursue is this:
      If Mette Bock is honest about not wanting to save money but to restructure to save the orchestra from further cutting within DR, then two things need to be secured:

      1.) keeping the link to the media production house fully intact and thriving

      2.) securing the financing long term to have stable artistic planning and development conditions which are essential for any ambitious symphony orchestra that wants to play in the international league.

      It can easily be done, by taking the DR Ensembles out of the contract the government every four (?) years renegotiates with DR. Four years is insanity for a symphony orchestra. They need generational contracts, not temporary ones, in order to be excellent.
      So the government should do a separate contract with DR as far as the orchestras and choirs are concerned, securing their financing for a longer period, e.g. 20 years, a period more reasonable for artistic development and planning.

      And within that contract simultaneously also force DR to actually produce media content with these ensembles in all current formats, radio, TV, internet streaming, and distribute it to the whole country. Which is the main purpose of these ensembles to begin with.

      Your supported proposal will first rob these orchestras and choirs off their vast media audience, and then eventually starve and possibly kill them.

    • So the choice is between pest or cholera, and you say cholera is better.

      You completely ignore what the essential link of being within DR means for the radio orchestra to reach about 100.000 listeners in the whole country every week they have concerts which are broadcast live and rebroadcast later. The audience in the hall is minuscule compared to their media audience, about 1.500 ticket buyers for each concert.
      If you take them out of Denmark’s Radio, you rob them off their media presence and their founding purpose. Their legally dedicated purpose is to produce media content for the whole country. Not to give concerts. Those concerts have the purpose to produce live recordings first of all. Only secondary is their purpose as a cultural aggregator for the Copenhagen region.
      It is very common, that musicians and management do not understand this, because they only recognize audience they actually can see. duh!

      The much better strategy to pursue is this:
      If Mette Bock is honest about not wanting to save money but to restructure to save the orchestra from further cutting within DR, then two things need to be secured:

      1.) keeping the link to the media production house fully intact and thriving

      2.) securing the financing long term to have stable artistic planning and development conditions which are essential for any ambitious symphony orchestra that wants to play in the international league.

      It can easily be done, by taking the DR Ensembles out of the contract the government every four (?) years renegotiates with DR. Four years is insanity for a symphony orchestra. They need generational contracts, not temporary ones, in order to be excellent.
      So the government should do a separate contract with DR as far as the orchestras and choirs are concerned, securing their financing for a longer period, e.g. 20 years, a period more reasonable for artistic development and planning.

      And within that contract simultaneously also force DR to actually produce media content with these ensembles in all current formats, radio, TV, internet streaming, and distribute it to the whole country. Which is the main purpose of these ensembles to begin with.

      Your supported proposal will first rob these orchestras and choirs off their vast media audience, and then eventually starve and possibly kill them.

  • >