July 1, 2020

Advocacy Alert: BSO $1.6M Appropriation on Board of Public Works Agenda

At the Wednesday, July 1 Board of Public Works (BPW) meeting, a proposal will be heard to cut the $1.6 million appropriation for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from the State’s FY2021 budget (Fiscal Year beginning July 1). BSO President & CEO Peter Kjome will testify on behalf of the BSO Board of Directors, Musicians, and Staff, to respectfully reject this proposed elimination of the statutorily required appropriation.

BPW meetings are open to the public, with a livestream and agenda available here.
The July 1 meeting starts at 10 am.

The BSO’s testimony is as follows:

“We respectfully ask that you do not approve the proposed elimination of the statutorily required appropriation of $1.6 million to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the FY2021 budget.

In 2019, the General Assembly enacted House Bill 1404 which did three things: 1) Appropriated $1.6M in the FY20 budget contingent on the Governor releasing the funds after July 1, 2019; 2) Mandated an appropriation of $1.6M for FY21; and, 3) Established a Workgroup on the BSO to make recommendations regarding cost containment strategies, audience development including diversifying access and increasing statewide public participation.

The Workgroup on the BSO, led by former State Senator Ed Kasemeyer, developed a comprehensive set of recommendations to put the BSO on sound financial footing over several years. One of the goals of these recommendations is to rely on a declining amount of State financial support. The BSO has been diligently implementing this plan, in turn leveraging private contributions to seed the organizational transformation ahead. The State commitment of funding in FY21 was integral to that effort and public response, as was a consideration of further bridge funds in FY22 and beyond.

We understand the significant fiscal challenges facing the State in navigating this unprecedented crisis. But we cannot understate the significant fiscal challenges facing the BSO now. As the State’s largest arts organization, the planned State funding is critical to advance the major cultural, procedural, and systematic changes outlined in our forward looking plans.

On behalf of our Board of Directors, musicians, and staff, we respectfully request the adherence to what we believe is an equitable and reasonable approach to this FY21 appropriation.”