Mayor Charlie Hales' budget included a sour note for the Oregon Symphony—there's no money for its annual waterfront concert.
The free annual concert at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, sponsored by the city and the launch of the symphony's season, was set for Aug. 29. Last year's program included both the Portland Youth Philharmonic Program and the Oregon Symphony, and included performances of works by Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, as well as the flying theme from the movie "E.T."
The outdoor concert, in its 17th season in 2012, was targeted for cuts by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, an independent nonprofit that gets 70 percent of its money from the city.
Eliminating this summer's concert—which cost the city $192,000 last year—is a substantial portion of the $379,000 Hales cut from RACC in his 2013 budget. RACC had expected that money to be more than made up from the $35-per-person arts tax revenues, but the city refuses to give the agency any of the tax money unless it wins two lawsuits challenging the new tax.
As first reported today by Oregon Music News, the symphony sent out a press release with the news:
Recent budget cuts mandated by the City and made by the Regional Arts and Culture Council have resulted in the cancellation of this year’s Waterfront Concert.
Realizing the importance of this concert to the thousands of Portland residents of all ages, ethnicities, and neighborhoods who attend each year, the Symphony made a last ditch effort to find new sponsors for the popular end-of-summer event. When none could be found, the concert—like so many other worthwhile endeavors whose funding disappeared during these challenging fiscal times—was no longer possible.
It is anticipated that this will be a one-year hiatus for the popular event.
“Facing an unprecedented $21.5 million shortfall in the budget, the city had to make some pretty tough decisions this year,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “Some popular and terrific programs couldn’t be funded this time, and the Waterfront Concert is a good example. But the concert will be in my proposed budget for 2014-15, if the city’s revenue picture improves – and we’re expecting that it will.”