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Ministry report's time lag dashes APO expectations and hopes

Ministry report's time lag dashes APO expectations and hopes

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s (APO) Dame Rosanne Meo and new Board Chairman Geraint Martin welcomed some aspects of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s New Zealand Professional Orchestra Sector Review final report, which was released yesterday. However, they stopped short of endorsing the document as a whole, calling it a missed opportunity.

The review, which started in 2011, places the APO in its own category of ‘Metropolitan Orchestra’. But with no additional Central Government funding to help the orchestra meet the expanded role, the report is a disappointment. Funding to the APO is frozen at current levels until at least 2015.

“It is significant that the Government has acknowledged the unique role that the APO already occupies in New Zealand and has been fulfilling for some time,” said Mr Martin. “It is not simply a recognition that we reside in New Zealand’s largest city and economic powerhouse, but an acknowledgement of our excellence and of the broad and deep links we have worked hard to create throughout Auckland.”

Both Mr Martin and Dame Rosanne were dismayed that despite the report’s lengthy gestation, the final document lacked funding solutions.

“Our artistic, community and educational growth over the last five years has been funded by Auckland, our audiences and our sponsors. To suggest we should now wait a further two years for any increment in central government funding is a let down. The change in status threatens to be meaningless unless it brings substantive benefits and new funding to the organisation and the people of Auckland.

“Rather than the bold look at the sector everyone hoped for, this is a variation on the status quo; the orchestral landscape looks little different now to when it was established in 1946. We recognise that in difficult financial times tough decisions need to be made; however ‘status quo plus’ is not bold enough to maximise economic value and risks missing significant opportunities to develop the orchestral sector.”

“The great orchestras of the world – the Berlin and New York Philharmonics, the London and Melbourne Symphonies – are metropolitan orchestras,” said Dame Rosanne. “But to serve the community to the extent that name implies, and in the way the APO wishes to continue serving Auckland, takes resources. For us, there is no real funding solution to be found within the document. Suggestions that further monies should be extracted from local authorities fail to recognise the extent to which the APO is already generously supported by Auckland Council – Aucklanders are doing enough.”

Mr Martin said: “While the review signals a potentially exciting future role for the APO, a two-year funding lag makes it impossible to meet the expectations formalised in the report. The report provides a workable if conservative skeleton for the future of the orchestral sector, but it also poses challenges that can only be met with appropriate funding levels that need to be delivered now, not after the next election.”


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