This year we gradually became aware of a looming shortfall between revenue from ticket sales and contributions and expenses as we studied cash-flow projections as early as January. It was nothing new for panic to set in as each summer approaches and expenses mount but concerts have yet to begin--but this year the deficit was on a scale unprecedented. We may never understand all the causes--the concentration of 17 concerts into one month, the selection of artists, the repertoire, the diverse mix of different styles of music, the changes in local and American culture, the weather--the list is endless. But the problem has spared few other artistic institutions in recent years, from The Philadelphia Orchestra to dozens of local opera theaters, museums, and dance companies. More than a few have gone out of existence.
Led by President Susan Hostetter, our board moved into crisis mode and began to meet at least twice a week beginning in July, all thirteen members becoming engaged. We discussed all options, including "a soft landing," ending immediately, at the end of the summer, or after the winter season in Elizabethtown. But no one relished going out of existence and so the board raised $76,000 in a matter of weeks (still increasing) to keep us alive.
The new Gretna Music will be closer to our original vision: uncompromising quality of music in the tradition stamped for better or worse with the label, 'classical' that has met the test of time for centuries and is still alive and well, albeit more appreciated in some places than others where it has been drowned out by a flood of other kinds of entertainment. 'Classical' does not mean 'the permanent collection.' Instead, it changes with time and we intend to keep up, realizing that, although our audience has lived different lives than Mozart's, he, and Beethoven, Brahms, Bartok, and others, still speak to us, as do modern and contemporary composers. Through our crisis we learned that we have a appreciative and loyal band of followers who share our vision. We would not be alive now without them and so I can end today with a heartfelt thank you to all! We welcome your comments and suggestions.
Our Winter Season begins on Saturday, November 17, with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, playing Bach's Goldberg Variations on the wonderful new Steinway in Leffler Hall.