Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ice cold in Philly?

Charlotte Higgins wrote in yesterday's Grauniad about the intimations of crisis at the Philadelphia Orchestra. "Though it has an interim music director in Charles Dutoit, it has no permanent holder of that post, nor a chair of trustees, nor an executive director. It has just announced staff and pay cuts, and cancelled a tour to Europe this summer."

Of course the American arts scene faces a harder, faster crumbling under the current economic woes than its European counterpart, being almost wholly dependent on the whims of sponsors and the health of the stock market. Whether Obama's package will help is uncertain. But isn't it the case that the better the management, the better the chance of any organisation, of any kind, to weather the blast? If, as Charlotte says, this orchestra has no music director, no chair of trustees and no executive director, that doesn't appear to put it in a particularly good spot right now. How is it possible for a world-class orchestra like this one to land up rudderless? Better no music director than a bad one (we in London know all about that from the last recession...), but it sounds as if the great Philadelphia Orchestra, Fantasia or none, has more to worry about even than world economics.