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October 10, 1997


Baltimore, MD -- A new report, "Symphony Orchestras and Local Governments," from the Maryland Institute of Policy Analysis and Research at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, explores the nature of symphony orchestras' interaction with local government at a crucial juncture in federal arts funding.

"The reduction of NEA funding offers an opportunity to lead state and local governments in thinking about new ways to support orchestras and other arts organizations," states Arthur T. Johnson, author of the study and professor of political science at UMBC.

The report examines orchestra financial data and survey responses from managing directors of 55 of the approximately 100 American orchestras with operating budgets of at least $1 million. Symphony orchestras in cities such as Baltimore, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Memphis and Shreveport responded to questions regarding public funding as a percentage of total revenues, concert hall conditions and renovation plans, community outreach efforts, and local government and its effects on orchestra activities. (See the attached page for a complete list of orchestras responding to the survey.)

According to Johnson's study, public funding represents approximately 6 percent of the responding orchestras' revenues. Without this funding, 30 of 34 orchestras in the sample operating at a surplus in 1996 would have incurred a deficit. Close to 70 percent of the respondents received financial support from their city governments and nearly one third (31 percent) received more funding from their local governments than state and federal resources.

Community outreach activities were required by 75 percent of the cities and counties funding the orchestras in the study. In addition, 58 percent of the sample identified special activities to improve race relations, the sense of community or civic identity. Sixty-nine percent took part in activities in support of local charities. More than half of the respondents (54 percent) expect to increase their emphasis on outreach in the future.

The study provides an understanding of how orchestras operate and offers recommendations to assist local officials in developing public policy for their community's cultural institutions, especially symphony orchestras. "Symphony orchestras are essentially small businesses that can be positive contributors to the local economy, bringing regional and national attention to a city and serving as an important focal point in many peoples' lives," explains Johnson.

For more information or to obtain a copy of the report, contact Arthur Johnson at the Maryland Institute of Policy Analysis and Research by telephone at 410.455.2195 or by email to

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Posted by dwinds1 at October 10, 1997 12:00 AM