Young Achievers Recital
CONNECTING IN ACTION WEEK
1. Why does the sector need reviewing; what’s wrong with the status quo?
- The current structure was established in 1946. New Zealand was different then. In 1946 there was one full-time professional orchestra; there are now two. In 1946, Aucklanders made up 12.5% of the 1.78m national population. Auckland now has 34% of all New Zealanders – 1.5m people – and as Auckland has grown, so has its orchestra, in large part through its own efforts. Times have changed, New Zealand’s orchestral sector has changed, New Zealand has changed – but the structure and funding model remain rooted in 1946. This raises questions about the current model, including whether in fact it is constraining the growth of the NZ orchestral sector.
2. We have a national symphony orchestra. Why do we need a professional orchestra in Auckland?
- Their remits are different. It’s important to have a strong city-based orchestra to fulfil all the performance and community requirements of the city in which it is based. International best practice follows a city-based model, where a resident professional orchestra develops a deep and broad relationship with the population it serves. The world’s great symphony orchestras are, without exception, city based: Berlin, New York, Chicago, Vienna, London.… However, the current model in New Zealand essentially ignores the existence of city-based orchestras.
3. Will Aucklanders still be able to hear the NZSO?
- Yes. The NZSO is a fine orchestra and will continue to maintain a presence in Auckland and to tour, and as a national entity it should. However, only a city-based orchestra can provide the depth and breadth of services required by New Zealand’s largest city.
4. Why don’t the orchestras pool resources?
- They do, to a reasonably large degree. There are of course areas in which we compete, but the orchestras’ artistic departments meet on a regular basis to share guest artists and to ensure that there is as little conflict of repertoire as possible. The APO regularly shares players with the NZSO and vice versa as both orchestras wish to maintain high artistic standards and require the best players when repertoire calls for large player numbers.
5. Is this just about money?
- No. It’s about providing world-class services of breadth and depth to a population of 1.5 million people. That does require money, but this isn’t about the money itself, it’s about what we would do with it.
6. So what would you do with more money?
- In short, more activity with more players. Extra funding would be applied in many areas. We would increase the range of APO Connecting (education, community and outreach) programmes we offer, extending the orchestra’s reach, particularly to the west and north; it would provide long-term stability for the orchestra and enable it to continue to grow and develop as it has done over the previous decades; it would provide stability for our players, which in turn enables the orchestra to attract and retain musicians, benefitting the orchestra, audiences and community alike. And it would enable the orchestra to consistently compete for the world’s leading artists (soloists and conductors).
7. We’re experiencing a recession. Is now really the time to be asking for more money?
- We recognise the need for financial prudence in times of economic uncertainty and accept that overall funding within the orchestral sector cannot currently be increased. However, the APO believes that the government’s contribution could be more equitably distributed, with a different model acknowledging the need for a national touring orchestra, recognising the APO’s status as a world-class professional orchestra based in Auckland.
8. Why should public money be used to fund an elite art form enjoyed only by rich people?
- An orchestra is not an elite art form and nor is it enjoyed only by rich people. The orchestra engages with the full spectrum of people, rich and poor, from across Auckland and New Zealand. The APO’s youth education programme Sistema Aotearoa, for example, is based in Otara, giving free musical instruction to children from decile 1 primary schools, simultaneously teaching them life skills they will always carry. Free Open Days are held across the city. In May 2012 the APO played a main stage concert with emerging and established hip-hop artists – the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra seeks always to address the diverse needs of the population it serves. There are many such initiatives, large and small, that ensure communities and individuals across Auckland can participate in and enjoy musical activity that they would not otherwise have access to. Similarly, our concert prices range from less than the cost of a movie ticket to more for expensive mainstage performances; we try to ensure there is a range of options so everyone can enjoy music performed by highly trained professional musicians.
9. I don’t attend the orchestra. Why should I pay?
- The orchestra operates in many places. Our players can be found in schools throughout Auckland, and we performed at many free outdoor concerts like Starlight Symphony, where hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders heard us. We performed at the opening of the Rugby World Cup. We’ve backed and performed with artists like Kenny Rogers, Serj Tankian, and the Topp Twins.
10. Why does Auckland need a professional orchestra?
- A strong cultural economy means a strong city. It makes Auckland a more exciting place to live and do business. Recent research shows that regional cultural institutions such as the APO are among Aucklanders’ top 5 factors contributing to the vision of Auckland as the world’s most liveable city. (source: Colmar Brunton, ‘Aucklanders and the arts: Attitudes, attendance, and participation in 2011’, 23 May 2012)
In the Long Term Plan, Auckland Council states that “the council’s vision is for Auckland to be the world’s most liveable city…. a culturally rich and creative Auckland”. In the 2012-2019 Long term Plan, Council states that “Arts, and the opportunity to create, participate, and experience it, play an important role in Auckland.” To this end, Council provides funding to support a range of regional arts organisations including the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. However, Aucklanders should also benefit from Government support for the orchestral sector and the present imbalance, where most government support is directed towards one national orchestra, is no longer fair, nor does it meet the needs of an orchestra serving a modern urban metropolis like Auckland.
- Orchestras contribute to the economy of the city in which they are based. In the year ending March 2012, the APO employed the services of: 197 musicians, 42 overseas artists, 36 admin staff and 365 local businesses.
11. How will increased funding to the APO benefit Aucklanders?
- The APO aspires to be the centre of cultural life in Auckland, and can already claim to be so. For example, in 2011 a 6-month dance project of international status was staged, featuring 100 young people from north, south, east and west Auckland, covering school deciles 1-10, ultimately giving the students a rare opportunity to dance on the Aotea Centre stage in front of a paying audience and backed by a professional orchestra. The APO is not a dance organisation, yet the orchestra drove the project. Why? Because of all performing arts organisations in Auckland, only the APO had the ability to make the project happen.
- Research has shown the links between cultural vibrancy and economic growth.
- The APO’s education, community and outreach programme, APO Connecting, is the envy of orchestras in the Asia-Pacific region. Through APO Connecting the orchestra reaches more than 23,000 young people each year, with APO musicians making more than 200 school visits annually.
12. Yes, but why does the APO need more money?
- The APO has reached the limit of what can be achieved with the funding it has, and there is a demand for our services that we are currently unable to meet.
13. Can’t APO Connecting be funded separately? Why does the orchestra need more?
- The APO is first and foremost a professional symphony orchestra. The work we do away from the main stage is only possible if we have a robust, secure orchestra that’s capable of attracting world-class stars.
14. Will more schools get access to APO education programmes?
15. Will my tickets become cheaper?
- The APO already offers an excellent selection of free and low-cost performances, and further funding might enable us to increase the frequency of these. However, were the APO to receive more funding, the main intention would be to consolidate what we offer, and to increase and improve the range of what we do. These are extra costs, and are the areas to which further funding would be applied.
16. Current funding levels enable the NZSO to achieve the highest quality orchestral standards. Won’t reduced funding to NZSO result in a lowering of orchestral standards? Or result in two mediocre professional orchestras?
- The relationship between funding and the quality of an orchestra’s performances is more complex than that. Outstanding reviews and overwhelmingly positive audience reaction to the APO’s concerts over the last few years have shown that. Additionally, the fact that the APO and NZSO freely exchange musicians indicates that both are comfortable with the quality of player each orchestra has.
17. Shouldn’t funding be directed to Christchurch?
- We sympathise with our colleagues in Christchurch and, where possible, provide continuing support and assistance.
18. Will increased government funding mean that the APO will reduce its ask from local government?
- This is unlikely, though that depends very much on the level by which government funding increases. We have plans for development and growth of the APO and we would use any additional funding to ensure that we could secure the position of the APO as a well-balanced 21st century orchestra, operating in a range of areas of activity. Auckland Council currently provides roughly one-quarter of the APO’s income. We do not anticipate central government funding being able to allow for our planned growth as well as take over any Council funding.
19. Central and local government funding combined accounts for nearly 50% of your income. Surely that’s enough.
- A quarter of the APO’s income is from central government and another quarter from local government. But even adding those together, the APO receives less government funding as a percentage of total income than any other full-time orchestra in Australasia. In 2009 the Adelaide Symphony received 60.36%, Queensland Symphony 73.49% (2010), and NZSO 73.49% (2009/10) from government sources.
20. Doesn’t increasing government funding result in the APO’s reducing efforts to obtain funding from sponsorship, ticket sales or other sources?
- The APO has dedicated and highly skilled staff members whose sole jobs are to ensure that funding is obtained from a range of sources. This will not change.
21. Why does it cost so much to run an orchestra?
- The orchestra has 70 full-time musicians and around 20 support staff, housed in three buildings. We are also the main hirer of Auckland Town Hall, and every time we move the orchestra we need to hire trucks…. Given the range of what we do and the number of people whose lives we impact upon, we believe the APO provides exceptional value for money.
22. The NZSO calls itself a full-sized orchestra but says you’re not. What’s the difference?
- The APO is a full-sized orchestra, though at the smaller end. The NZSO is fortunate to be able to employ 90+ musicians on a full-time basis. The APO contracts 70 full-time musicians, engaging extra players if required. Additional funding could see the APO take on an increased number of full-time players.
23. What happens to the other regional orchestras, and other Auckland orchestras, such as the Auckland and Manukau Symphonies?
- The APO already plays a strong support role for the other Auckland orchestras. APO players are involved with the other orchestras as teachers, players, mentors and conductors. With extra funding, the APO could broaden its existing support. The semi-professional orchestras play important roles in their communities. We envisage that they continue to do so in the future.
24. Is there conflict among our orchestras?
- No. Behind the scenes, all of NZ’s orchestras work closely and collaboratively. The APO’s search for acknowledgement as one of the country’s two international class full-time professional orchestras has no bearing on our feelings towards other orchestras and we hope they feel the same.
25. Will extra funding replace current Creative New Zealand funding?
- Only the government can determine the funding structure.
26. What happens to the APO if the review results in a recommendation to keep the status quo?
- The government has invested significant time and resource into this review – the first serious review of the sector since 1946. It is unlikely that such effort would be made simply to keep everything ticking over as before.
27. We have a national ballet and a national opera company, why shouldn’t we have a national orchestra?
- No one is suggesting we shouldn’t. The APO’s Chair, Dame Rosanne Meo, has stated on the record that the APO is in support of retaining the NZSO.