How many orchestras will Britain lose?main
Charlotte Higgins has published a long piece in the Guardian today, demanding to know why big names are not rallying to save the UK’s orchestras.
She reckons some orchestras have less than 12 weeks to live, unless there is an unforseen blessing of massive state investment.
Which orchestras are most at risk? One eminent conductor has told me he believes two will collapse in London, two in the regions and one in Scotland. I have yet to find a single optimist who thinks business will continue post-Covid as before.
The woes vary. London orchestras fill their diaries on foreign touring, which Simon Rattle has stated is now gone forever. There is not enough work for all of them at home. Regional orchestras rely on a major local sponsor, most of whom are now in dire economic straits.
What emerges from Charlotte’s observations and my own is the absence of any strategy to dig orchestras out of a crisis that has been coming for a generation – a crisis precipitated by the collapse of the record industry, aging audiences, a narrowing demographic, pointless touring, loss of media profile and a lack of fresh thought.
It’s not too late to save the orchestras, but it’s the 11th hour has ticked past the halfway mark.