Letter of the day 9-10-13

Today’s letter appeared in the 9-10-13 issue of the Star Tribune

Editorial ‘verdict’ was a study in defeatism

Newspapers are sometimes accused of boosterism, but until Saturday I’d never seen its opposite: a Star Tribune editorial making the shameful, dispiriting suggestion that Minnesotans abandon their tradition of cultural excellence (“Verdict on orchestra: Costs are too high”).

I have lived in this community all my life and have never heard civic leaders advise us that our community vision was unrealistic, that our sights were too high, that we were out of our league in aspiring to excellence.

The editorial wasn’t even logical. Positing that artistic excellence was at stake, it proceeded to suggest diminishing the same to save … what? An institution that has lost its soul?

Clearly, the Minnesota Orchestra is sloshing around in some kind of financial doo-doo. It’s also clear the musicians have held up their end of the deal — making music that blows away some of the world’s most sophisticated critics — even as the board has dropped the ball and put the organization on the skids.

Well, the damage is done. We need a solution.

But it must not be to cheat musicians of compensation commensurate with their world-class talent, deprive the community of its music and downgrade the cultural status of the Twin Cities. The solution lies instead in a board that knows how to run an orchestra like an orchestra (not like a bank), is savvy enough in its community relations to cultivate and engage sufficient resources, is truthful about its finances, and eschews brute bullying as a management style.

MARY PATTOCK, Minneapolis

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One Response to Letter of the day 9-10-13

  1. pwlsax says:

    I suspect the MO has been living on borrowed time anyway. Not because of rising costs – or not just – but because its innovative programming and community awareness were taking it too far away from the rest of the orchestra world, with its traditions of conservatism and compliance to elites. Those traditions are dying, but by no means dead.

    Such pioneering might be welcome in the east or west, where the arts have more moneyed individuals as defenders. But in Minnesota the arts are beholden to a new elite – an impersonal elite of numbers and power that cares nothing for the orchestra, or the community, except keeping it compliant.

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