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Now, Jacksonville Symphony is in trouble

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My kids used to belong to Jax youth orchestras.  We personally

know some of the musicians and their children.  I've been

following their situation and it doesn't seem good.  You can

read some of the articles on  "http://violinomama.blogspot.com/2007/12/jacksonville-symphony-orchestra-florida.html">

here.  The worst thing is losing the orchestra in

Jacksonville community.  Hope they can avoid that and come to

a reasonable agreement.

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Ahhhh, Jacksonville. Brings back memories of when I was stationed at Mayport Naval Station in the late '70's. In one respect, I'm amazed that they even have a symphony orchestra in the city, and in another I'm amazed they were able to decide to have only one orchestra for the city.

When I was living there, Mayor Jake Godbold was making the big push to get the big pro stadium built in downtown. I think that stadium has already been torn down and and new one built since. There was a lot of anger among the beach dwellers about the layering of city services over their own community services and getting taxed for both. I'll bet they still haven't straightend that all out. The city had basically annexed the whole county and made everything within city limits so if you lived out on the beaches and called for a cop or an ambulance, you never knew if anyone was going to respond even though you were taxed for county, community and city levels of services.

I always wondered how much a professional orchestra musician made and how much they worked in a year. I realize the figures presented in the article aren't exact but they give me a starting point. Just curious. Never really had any idea what the average orchestral musician made for their efforts.

I hope the powers that be can get together and come to an agreement soon. My experience with the monsterous multi-layered burgeoning bureauocracy that is the Jacksonville government leaves little hope for getting anything done in time. Just think of the most expensive, misdirected, wasteful way of continuing the orchestra and that's the way it will be done if they decide to do it. Jacksonville has matured to that level of bureaucratic gridlock that means that they'll probably spend more money on a study of whether or not the orchestra is worth it's cost than the orchestra will cost in a year.

Best thing about pessimism is that you're rarely disappointed...

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From the cost stand point, I don't know, but I think it is, in part, due to bad management. From the community point of view, the orchestra did so much for the youths in the area. Their youth orchestra started out as 3 levels and now expanded to 6 levels starting from total beginner student who's never touched the instrument to advanced students. That itself tells the raised interest in orchestral music among the community. It will be so sad and disappointment to the youngsters in Jacksonville if the JSO disappears.

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Well, the kid's program won't be the first community project they've made into a political football just so they can fumble it. When I was stationed there I watched the city take over and ruin the Mayport Cool Jazz Festival. What started as a really nice intimate musical festival down by the Coast Guard docks on the river was turned into some bloated, overpromoted corporate money loser for the Downtown "enterprize zone" that nobody wanted. In less than two years most of the "cool jazz" was drowned out by all the beer kiosks and radio station promo-booths. I heard some time ago that they were still doing the festival every year but I haven't been to one to see if they've managed to improve it. Now with all the budget rearrangement, I'd doubt it will survive.

Big government can suck the life out of even the most vibrant community effort.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
krugwaffle

My experience with the monsterous multi-layered burgeoning bureauocracy that is the Jacksonville government leaves little hope for getting anything done in time. Just think of the most expensive, misdirected, wasteful way of continuing the orchestra and that's the way it will be done if they decide to do it. Jacksonville has matured to that level of bureaucratic gridlock that means that they'll probably spend more money on a study of whether or not the orchestra is worth it's cost than the orchestra will cost in a year.


To be fair, city per se has relatively little to do with the situation, except as a convenient scapegoat for the management. Jacksonville, like all other orchestras in the U.S., is not supported by the government or by tax dollars. Out of an $8 million budget, $459,000 comes from city cultural grants. I don't know how their grants are structured, but here the public grants are usually restricted to education programs (public school partnerships, concerts for public school kids, etc.) so none of that goes toward musician salaries.

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I am happy to report that they finally reached the agreement and resumed their performance. According to Fox News, Jacksonville, "Wednesday afternoon, the Jacksonville Symphony Association made an agreement with the players to a five-year contract, ending the lockout that began in mid-November.....The new contract also includes raises of 2.5 and 3 percent coming in years four and five. The musician's pensions have been reduced but there will be a pension fundraising concert."

I received their e-newsletter and they returned to the stage on Jan. 18 and were greeted by standing ovation. I am so happy for them!

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