APO hoping for more Govt funding
Fri, 02 Nov 2012 8:44a.m.
By Tennessee Mansford
Six orchestras around the country receive public funding and the Government is reviewing how that money is shared.
Orchestras aren't cheap to run so how do they survive when the economy hits a bum note?
For Jonathan and Nicola Baker, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra is their life - they met when they joined as musicians two decades ago and now they're married with two daughters, the orchestra pays the family's bills.
“We do struggle from time-to-time, financially,” says Mr Baker.
The APO also has bills to pay – it’s one of only two professional orchestras in the country and the APO’s CEO Barbara Glaser says it can't afford to keep up with demand.
“I think we have totally hit the glass ceiling with what we can do with what we're getting now,” she says.
The orchestra employs 70 full-time musicians who perform to over 100,000 people each year. Over the past three decades the APO has collaborated with big names including System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian and Meatloaf. Recently it teamed up with Kiwi band six60, the big winners at last night’s New Zealand Music Awards.
Despite working with popular musicians the orchestra doesn't earn enough from performances to sustain itself.
“Orchestras are not inexpensive beasts there's a large number of people involved in every performance,” says Mrs Glaser.
The APO costs $9 million a year and as a registered charity relies partly on donated money to make up the shortfall. Twenty-five percent of its income comes from sponsorship and fundraising, 27 percent from performances and the rest is topped up by Government funding.
Central government has budgeted $17 million for orchestras. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra which employs 90 full-time musicians gets over $13 million of that, while the APO receives around $2 million but says it would like more to keep up with Auckland's population growth.
“I think it's a good time to be asking questions about what's right for New Zealand in the 21st Century,” says Mrs Glaser.
The funding system is being reviewed and Minister for Culture and Heritage Chris Finlayson says a decision is expected early next year.
The last review of regional orchestras was done 40 years ago by a fellow called John Hopkins and in that time since then, the population of the country's grown, demography's changed, and so I thought it was a very good idea to take a fresh look at the issue,” he says.
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