I was having a conversation with one of my adult piano students today. We were talking about the current situation that exists in many orchestras and what may lie ahead for their future. Toward the end of the conversation she asked, “who really owns the orchestra”. Good question. My belief is that the orchestra is “owned” by those that consume the art: the patrons. I explained that to her in terms of a relationship that people have with a “for-profit” business.
As a consumer, you pay your money for a product or service and expect it to deliver as promised. That’s no different than buying your ticket and expecting the musicians to perform at the top of their ability. If the product isn’t any good, you don’t buy it anymore. Consequently, if the performances are lack luster and the musicians are indifferent on stage, you don’t buy any more tickets.
As an investor, you expect a company’s management to run the organization in such a way that will produce a profit and a successful product or service. As a donor you give money to the orchestra. You expect that the orchestra management will run the organization in such a way that will balance the budget while simultaneously producing top-notch artistic performances. As an investor, you expect the company board of directors to replace managers that are not doing their job effectively. Why should you expect anything different when you give money to the orchestra?