Back in November I wrote a blog entitled A Bridge Campaign Too Far that talked about how orchestras are beginning to squeeze their corporate and private patrons for donations too often. And now we have a new large scale example: The Washington Post published a story today stating Maryland’s “Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan threatened to “mothball” the partially completed Strathmore Hall concert pavilion if the County Council refuses to help pay for $9.6 million in cost overruns.”
The $100 million Strathmore Hall concert pavilion is intended as the second home for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Let’s forget the reasons why this new hall is a bad idea:
- The National Symphony Orchestra is only 10 miles away from Strathmore Hall’s location.
- The Baltimore Symphony is already overextended and in debt.
- One of the projects architect’s, BSO Executive Director John Gidwitz, is bailing out of the project by way of his retirement at the end of the 03-04 season.
The important problem here is that the private foundation established to operate Strathmore Hall is going back to the Montgomery County Government to ask for more money – again. The consequence is a resounding “NO” from county government officials and the county executive giving the request a public tongue-lashing.
So what’s the moral of the story? When you plan any major fundraising campaign, you had better have a good idea of where you plan to raise money besides current patron sources. And your “Plan B” (or in Strathmore’s case we’re up to “Plan G”) had better not include asking the same people for money over and over again.
After all, it was Benjamin Franklin that said; “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”