Open Letter to the Communities of Metro Detroit from the DSO Executive Committee to the Board


December 9, 2010

Nobody loves the traditions, the character, the music, and the musicians – especially the music and the musicians – of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra more than we do. That’s why we proudly give our time, our energy and our financial support to keep the DSO a vibrant force in our community.

We are hugely disappointed to be in the position we are in, the tenth week of a heartbreaking strike that we hoped would never happen. Our foremost objective is to bring an end to this strike – a strike that no one wanted. We remain convinced that any resolution must be fiscally responsible and ensure not only the future viability, but also the future vitality, of the DSO – keys to successful future fundraising. We cannot and will not exceed what the DSO, its subscribers, patrons and donors can afford.

The DSO has been backed into a corner by the financial realities of the past several years that have devastated our community, and even before that had begun impacting the orchestra. Despite the DSO being among the very top fundraisers among all American orchestras, contributions to the arts are under an unprecedented level of stress. In Detroit, contributions have declined by nearly 30% (individual, corporate, foundation, state and federal funding) since 2008. Concurrently, as Michigan’s economy has been battered, the community’s ability to buy tickets has been impacted, resulting in a 20% decline in ticket sales and other earned income. These market forces have wrought havoc on our bottom line results and our future projections and are not different than the realities facing orchestras across the country. We continue to negotiate with our banks and reach out to our supporters as we dip precariously deeper into our endowment and watch potential revenues dry up as the strike now causes the cancellation of more holiday concerts. While we hope for, and work toward, a future economic recovery, we cannot spend more than we earn and what we reasonably expect to raise.

All of this is painful to watch and even more painful of which to be a part. And the longer it continues, the deeper we are being pushed into that corner.

As Board members we take our responsibility as custodians of the DSO very seriously. We speak with one voice with the management team in these negotiations and we share an unwavering conviction that the only way to arrive at a successful resolution in these negotiations is to reach one that is fiscally responsible and realistically achievable. In other words, as we’ve said before, there can be no artistic excellence without financial viability.

The Officers and Executive Committee of the DSO, on behalf of the Board of Directors, unanimously support Anne Parsons and her management team’s leadership in these negotiations and in building the organization for the future. We are joined at the hip in these efforts, are excited about the future and confident that the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will come together again as a family to bring great music to Detroit and to the world. We hope that an agreement can be reached quickly and that we can return to listening to the music and the musicians we all love as soon as possible.


Executive Committee of the DSO Board of Directors

Stanley Frankel, Chairman

Janet Ankers

Lillian Bauder, Ph.D.

Penny B. Blumenstein

Marlies Castaing

Peter D. Cummings

Phillip Wm. Fisher

Herman Frankel

Ralph Gerson

Alfred R. Glancy III

Paul M. Huxley

Dr. Arthur L. Johnson

Richard P. Kughn

Melvin A. Lester, M.D.

Arthur C. Liebler

David Robert Nelson

James B. Nicholson

Bruce D. Peterson

Lloyd E. Reuss

Bernard I. Robertson

Jack A. Robinson


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