In Australia, the federal government recently began an audit to determine the financial viability and assess the board governance of their six state symphony and two pit orchestras. Furthermore, the audit will consider how the Australian government and orchestral groups can improve their relationship to ensure the long-term sustainability of Australia’s orchestras.
This decision comes after several of their orchestras declared large operating deficits following a long period of financial health. For Australia, this will be the first major review of state orchestras in 20 years, and the Australian government selected an individual to conduct the audit that has experience as a theatre manager and is also the chairman of an insurance company. So it looks like the government is serious about the study, which is scheduled to conclude at the end of the year.
Several months ago I wrote an article that proposed a similar idea of a third party body assigned to perform regularly occurring audits for American orchestras. It will be interesting to see what conclusions the Australian audit comes up with and to discover their methods of research and evaluation. Hopefully, we’ll be able to adopt some of those results in this country and they’ll work toward creating a more financially stable orchestra environment.
On a related note, there was an article in the Australian paper “The Age” that connects the issue of placing too much importance on the role of music directors to the Australian orchestra audits. Written by Greg Barns, it even includes some quotes from Adaptistration.