The 5/1/21 edition of The Washington Post published an article by David Lynch and Yeganeh Torbati that examines the spike in costs for rental cars due to those companies’ decisions to slash the size of fleets to save costs over the pandemic.
Nutshell: those cuts combined with the amount of time it takes to restock means substantially higher prices and shortages for the 2021 Spring and Summer seasons.
For most year-round orchestras, this won’t be a showstopper expense but for groups like summer festivals and orchestras with summer residencies, it’s a different story. For example, in a city with a long running summer music festival, the cost of a one-week rental is nearly three times what musicians are paid in travel stipends and wages.
This is just one of several dynamic costs that organizations can expect to encounter when calculating expenditures. For groups that absorb these costs directly, the impact will be immediate and impossible to ignore; for those offloading these costs to artists and musicians, turning a blind eye is an exercise in risk management.
While I have yet to see a summer orchestra program fail to include disclaimer language about pandemic-based cancelations, it will be interesting to see if these dynamic costs become a tipping point for reduced or cancelled activity.
If nothing, else, these pressures are likely limited to the 2021 season, but I do hope there are plans among service organizations and unions alike to track these issues and report on their impact into strategic decision making.