In Monday’s (12/14) Globe and Mail (Canada), Jane Armstrong writes about the Prince George Symphony’s resiliency. “It has a mammoth $250,000 deficit. It will lose another $95,000 when the B.C. government slices its arts budget. And last year, half the seats in the concert hall were empty during performances. But the struggling orchestra in the hard-scrabble northern B.C. town refused to die. If the people wouldn’t come to the symphony, the symphony decided it would go to the people. It dispatched string quartets to malls, markets, and even the bare-bones Prince George Airport to serenade shoppers and travellers with Beethoven and Mozart in a bid to woo music lovers back to the symphony seats. Then it trimmed its budget, pared its performance schedule and launched a massive fundraising drive to save the 39-year-old orchestra from bankruptcy. The unorthodox fundraising efforts seem to have paid off for this town of 70,000, more renowned for its pulp mills than high culture. Last Saturday’s Christmas favourite, Handel’s Messiah, was sold out. … In order to stay afloat they must raise tens of thousands of dollars before the end of the fiscal year in May. No small feat in an isolated, northern city where the main industry—the forestry sector—has collapsed, driving the unemployment rate to 12 per cent.”

Posted December 17, 2009