Wednesday, April 27, 2011
An Open Letter to Our Community from Creative Albuquerque: The Closure of New Mexico Symphony Orchestra
This is a guest blog by Regina Chavez, Executive Director, and Brian Morris, President, Board of Directors, of Creative Albuquerque.
With the closing of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra (NMSO), our community has suffered a great cultural loss and it is not only the well-heeled, as some would argue, who will miss them. From Shiprock to Hobbs, the NMSO performed at schools and community centers all across the state and every year tens of thousands of elementary school children heard them perform at Popejoy Hall. For many years, the NMSO performed for Mother’s Day at the Albuquerque Zoo attended by thousands of families in our community.
The loss of this great cultural treasure also means a loss of local talent, green jobs, and a source of local economic vitality. The NMSO consisted of more than one-hundred professional musicians and administrative staff who will now join the ranks of the under/unemployed. Wherever they played, NMSO performances drew concert goers to local restaurants and merchants for pre- and post-concert dining and shopping. Concert production and marketing served as reliable source of revenue for numerous vendors, including the National Hispanic Cultural Center. In addition, the loss of the NMSO will affect our economic development efforts as employers look at a community’s cultural vitality, including the existence of a professional symphony orchestra, when considering relocation or expansion to other communities.
Supporting cultural resources like the NMSO takes a village. It requires the support of individuals, businesses, foundations and government. The economic downturn has affected many and this loss should serve as a wakeup call that we must find a way to sustain our most precious cultural resources. One alternative may be to take another look at the Quality of Life Initiative, which did not pass in 2006, but would have provided a steady stream of community supported funding for arts and cultural programming and institutions. Had it been approved, the NMSO would almost certainly not be in the bankruptcy courts today.
We are grateful for the NMSO –- musicians, chorus members, craft and administrative staff-- past and present, who for 79 years filled our lives with music. We hope that we haven’t heard the last of them and that the NMSO will emerge anew to once again fill our lives with the sound of music and to serve as a beacon of economic and cultural prosperity in our community.
This is a guest blog by Regina Chavez and Brian Morris of Creative Albuquerque.
If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page. Publication of a guest blog does not necessarily imply that we agree or disagree with the points made.