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The Fund for the Arts will kick off its annual fundraising campaign Tuesday. As reported on WFPL, the campaign begins at a time when many arts organizations are suffering. Fund CEO Allan Cowen says the organizations may need to rethink their size, though the fund will continue to support organizations as best it can. At one point in our interview, Cowen said if there were more money available to raise, the fund would likely have raised it.

The Louisville Orchestra’s musicians (Keep Louisville Symphonic) are not pleased with the Fund for the Arts. Kim Tichenor says the fund is neglecting its duties and took a swipe at Cowen’s salary, reported at more than $300 thousand (Cowen defends himself in the WFPL story). Tichenor also says Saturday’s Keep Louisville Symphonic concert raised $50 thousand.

See below for excerpts from the musicians’ statement:

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The Louisville Orchestra musicians sent out information this week about Keep Louisville Symphonic, which they describe as a “citizen-led effort to support its orchestral future.”

The orchestra has filed for Chapter 11. Last month, a judge ruled that the musicians must be paid. That also means that as long as the musicians are paid, they will play their regularly scheduled concerts.

But there’s more. Keep Louisville Symphonic will launch with a concert on the 29th of this month at Ballard High School. Former Louisville Orchestra artistic director Uriel Segal will return to lead the performance. Tickets are free, but donations to Keep Louisville Symphonic are encouraged.

Here’s more, from the musicians:

Tichenor said that the Keep Louisville Symphonic organization, which had its first organizational meeting and has had a tax-exempt status transferred from a pre-existing group, is an audience-centered organization. Its mission is to activate the collective energies of the Louisville community to preserve, protect and extend the inspiring and enlightening capacities of symphonic music for the city. In addition to what Tichenor envisions as once-a-month public concerts, the musicians have also committed to be involved in a grass-roots fundraising campaign to obtain additional donations to support the city’s orchestral arts.

Let’s file this in the “better late than never” folder

Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts president Michael Kaiser‘s name has come up in several stories about the Louisville Orchestra. The musicians had tried to get Kaiser to visit Louisville to share his knowledge about running arts organizations.  Kaiser has turned around other ensembles, and it was thought that his insights would help the orchestra. The management and the musicians never agreed on Kaiser’s visit, and it didn’t happen. But late last month, Kaiser wrote a column for the Huffington Post.

It’s called What I Want for Christmas. Here are some highlights:

1. Board members of arts organization who remember their missions. While most arts organizations have missions that relate to bringing arts and arts education to their communities, many board members really believe that the missions of their organizations are to break even. They believe that cutting budgets and doing less is satisfactory as long as the budget is balanced.

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2. Arts leaders who focus on training the next generation of arts leaders. We are nearing a dangerous point when an entire generation of arts leaders will retire.

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3. Political leaders to remember that almost 6 million Americans are employed in the arts, that we are a main motivator of tourism and that we generate billions of dollars of economic activity.

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4. Superintendants of schools, school board members and principals who remember that we live in an economy far different from the one when they were in school.

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5. Arts organizations that are willing to work together on projects of great impact that surprise and enchant our communities. We are far too competitive with each other. Yet in many communities, we have failed to create broad visibility for our collective work. This hampers our fundraising and ticket selling activities.

From WFPL:

Louisville Orchestra musicians must be paid, despite the orchestra management’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. That’s the ruling a federal judge handed down Wednesday. The ruling gives the orchestra’s board of directors limited options for what to do next.

Pay up or go under: those could be the only options the board has. The orchestra’s management was seeking temporary relief from the musicians’ contract as part of its Chapter 11 filing. The judge denied the request, saying the orchestra would only accrue more debt if the musicians didn’t play, since ticket holders and guest artists could seek money for cancelled concerts.

Now the board must come up with around $650 thousand that will be paid out between Friday and mid-April. The musicians will tentatively continue playing.

If the board can’t find the money, it may need to tap the orchestra’s nearly $10 million endowment. The board could also file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and essentially close. Board president Chuck Maisch said after the proceeding he couldn’t comment on what the board will do.

The judge told the musicians not to gloat. Their contract expires at the end of May, and the orchestra’s management would then have more leverage in trying to reshape the orchestra into a smaller ensemble that plays fewer shows. Management has argued that a smaller orchestra would stay solvent.

The orchestra is still seeking Chapter 11 protection, and management is hoping to cut one million dollars in annual operating expenses. Both sides could come to an agreement out of court and end the bankruptcy proceedings.

Letters from children have been submitted as evidence in the Louisville Orchestra’s bankruptcy case. The Wall Street Journal picked up on it.

“I’ve just heard the terrible news, please don’t shut down the Louisville Orchestra,” beseeched one Keegan Taylor. “PLEASE! I beg you!”

One of her classmates, Hanna White, had similar sentiments.

“I’m terribly sad that we might not get to take our filed trip to the louisville orchestra [sic],” she said. To make sure her point wasn’t lost on the reader — Judge David Stosberg, the bankruptcy official assigned to the case — White added in a hand-drawn little girl with the words “I would Love [sic] to go to the lousiville orchestra [sic]” ballooning out of her mouth.

Benjamin G. Morley also pleaded with the judge to try to turn the case around, saying that he had heard the orchestra might have to shut down.

“If it does I will be devestated. [sic] Plese [sic] reconsider so we can go,” he said, signing the letter “your best friend” and peppering his plea with ample exclamation points, capital letters and underlined phrases.

Our sources indicate the letters were not carried into the court in large mail sacks by letter carriers. Further, the letters were not dumped out in the court, and no letter carrier said, “One thousand letters to the Orchestra.”

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