Let the arts grow
I find myself asking the question, “What is the role of arts and human service organizations in today's perilous economic times?” The Louisville Orchestra is one example. There is certainly a case to be made for cutting budgets and trimming the number of players. Private business and government have chosen this “fiscally prudent” route.
However, I find myself thinking about another option. The Louisville Orchestra has the potential to be part of a new, vibrant Louisville. We must believe in the power of music to raise the spirits of the city. This “lock out” of the musicians only adds to the negativity that's already all around us.
The board of the orchestra has a higher calling than the “bottom line.” A commitment to the “top line” is part of what we all need to begin to climb out of this despondent mood brought on by the current recession. By choosing a path of growth — rather than reduction — the Louisville Orchestra could set an example to inspire the business community and government to invest in every sector of this great city.
The Louisville Orchestra has a great history, and what we need now is a vision of a great future. A belief in that vision can generate the gift support to make that dream a reality. I've had the opportunity to work closely with some great board members. Once at the Children's Center, when faced with a dire economic situation, we were choosing between cutting services or dipping into the principle of our modest endowment. One courageous board member rose to his feet with a challenge. He said, “I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd rather spend every penny of our endowment and then close our doors, than not have the kind of quality I can be proud of.” He turned around the organization that day. With his vision, we were transformed from followers into leaders.
CHARLES L. BAKER