As important as the arts are to cultural enrichment, it isn’t unusual for crucial arts programs to face resource shortages that make it difficult to keep the doors open. With the philanthropic landscape changing, what are some 21st-century funding solutions for the age-old question of sustainability?
The discordant sounds of 35 musicians tuning their instruments echoed through a rehearsal room at Lee College in Baytown. The players, gathered from around the area, were dressed casually. One had spent his day doing surgery. Another came afer a shift at a chemical plant. “Let’s start with La Forza,” Music Director Pierre-Alain Chevalier said, and the three introductory “E” brass and bassoon notes of Giuseppe Verdi’s work blasted into the space. Baytown, a city better known for oil refining than for high culture, might seem an unlikely place for such an endeavor. Yet the Baytown Symphony Orchestra’s weekly Tuesday night rehearsal was getting under way — among musicians who knew these sessions might soon come to an end.
The unlikely orchestra, halfway through its 51st season, has struggled financially to complete its final two shows. It has operated for at least 12 years at a deficit, relying on savings that have finally run out. Whether it will open another season is uncertain.