Discussing Orchestra Finances
To the Editors of The Crimson:
After reading Spencer Hsu's article "Orchestra Crippled by Missing Funds" of September 20th, I felt I had to respond to some of the misunderstandings and untruths contained therein.
The statement that seems to determine the tone of this article comes from Dean Archie Epps, who estimates the Bach Society's earnings for the 1987-1988 season to be "at least $10,000," and the operating expenses to be "only about $4,000," thus resulting in alleged missing funds of at least $6,000.
I am confused as to the origin of the 1988-1989 financial plan that these figures supposedly came from. According to the Dean's office later in the article, the records on the orchestra "do not provide [this] relevant information." Where did these figures come from? In fact, after conferring with the present conductor, Alan Gilbert '89, as well as other key members of the group, we arrived at a more realistic estimate of the orchestra's revenues for the season of $4,000.
Indeed, if we had the kind of budget Dean Epps quotes, we certainly should have been able to cover the complete cost of our season--but we didn't, and we weren't.
History proves that this group has never had that kind of profit margin--this group leads a very hand-to-mouth existence. The group collects very little revenue annually and expends only what is necessary to put together a season. The group is not capable of spending what they don't have on extravagant trips, lavish parties or extended weekend retreats. Many times I and several other members of the Bach Society, which cannot depend on a strong alumni foundation for support as some other performing organizations on campus, have been called upon to put up their own personal funds to carry the orchestra through the financial dry spells between concerts. This orchestra is composed of student musicians, not professional accountants, and their primary concern is making music, not profits.
While the leaders and managers of this organization are not financial wizards, I certainly do not think, considering the facts, they are deserving of the dishonest implications of your article. Perhaps if your paper would spend a little more time covering the Bach Society's concerts, and the music ensembles in general, as much as you do theater and other arts on campus, the group's concert revenues would be more sufficiently substantive to cover the expenses for their season and not be subject to the sensationalistic reporting of your publication. Scott C. Gregg '88 Music Director, Bach Society Orchestra, 1986-88
Editor's Note: The figure of $10,000 quoted in Spencer Hsu's article was obtained from Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III, whose office receives financial statements from official student organizations, including the Bach Society Orchestra.