Over the years we have been delighted to witness the development of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra into a world-class ensemble.
We are so grateful for its huge contribution to the cultural, artistic and educational quality of life here.
So, what does it say about the rationality of our values that we can spend hundreds of millions of dollars locally on sports arenas and can pay astronomic sums to those who play games in them, while our orchestral musicians are offered a mixture of pay cuts and the promise of some crumbs in due course?
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The Symphony’s managers should accept their responsibility to:
Earnestly solicit added revenue from willing patrons like ourselves (season ticket holders and significant donors);
Offer to take the same percentage pay cut they ask of the musicians;
Offer to move their offices out of the royally priced Bass Hall;
Insist on the same percentage cut to the Bass Hall rent (currently at about $4,000/day) that they ask of the musicians;
Offer to have the symphony perform at a more value-priced venue than the Bass Hall.
Finally, the Dallas Symphony plays at the Myerson Hall for $1/year, while our Fort Worth Symphony pays $319,000/year to the Bass Hall.
Dallas’ Myerson Hall is managed to enhance the performing arts (director paid about $140,000) while our Bass Hall staff are regally paid such as to impoverish the Fort Worth performing arts.
Are we to conclude Dallas’ civic leaders are more supportive of the performing arts than Fort Worth civic leaders?
I have lived and worked in many cities in the United States and throughout the world.
When my husband and I moved back to Texas in 2012, we chose to live in Fort Worth because of the high quality of visual and performing arts.
The challenges facing the Fort Worth Symphony are a warning that high quality institutions cannot be taken for granted.
Fort Worth has long benefitted from the generosity of a number of wealthy families whose members have a passion for the arts.
Most major cultural institutions in the United States have a broader base of individual and corporate support.
They receive significantly higher per capita levels of funding from city government.
Fort Worth has a national reputation for cultural institutions unique among cities of its size.
If the symphony is unable to offer its musicians competitive salaries, other cities will — and we will learn how much easier it is to lose something of value that it is to replace it.
How many of us would like to take a severe pay cut?
That’s the offer to Fort Worth Symphony musicians, who don’t make big salaries like baseball, football, basketball and hockey players.
Musicians have families, mortgages, car payments, credits cards, etc.
It seems if the community can support $100 million sports contracts and billion-dollar stadiums, we could at least pay these professional artists a decent salary.
That we don’t, can’t or whatever reflects on Cowtown’s culture.
Cowboys and culture? Apparently not.
Where is the outrage that a first-class city would allow the long history of its illustrious orchestra to simply disappear?
Where is the FWSO Board of Directors? Why are they not calling for a city- and county-wide effort to save the symphony from its current crisis?
My wife and I, having had the pleasure of hearing some of the world’s most outstanding orchestras over the years, were amazed when we moved to Tarrant County eight years ago to hear the rich and wonderful sound of the FWSO in the acoustically perfect Bass Hall.
Please don’t let this institution vanish without a whimper.
A great city will lose the shine on its star if it loses this orchest
William Morton MD,
Star-Telegram Publisher Gary Wortel is one of 83 board members of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. He is not a member of the 20-person executive committee. His membership on the board was not disclosed in a Tuesday editorial about the strike by symphony musicians.