RDSO sets the culture minister straight about attendance figures

Declining attendance? What declining attendance?

Declining attendance? What declining attendance?

The Red Deer Symphony Orchestra’s executive director, Melody McKnight, said she’d like to set the record straight after Alberta Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk suggested the RDSO is getting less in provincial grants because it’s pulling in less money from the community.

In fact, the opposite is true, said McKnight. “Our community derived revenue has gone up by $20,000.”

The RDSO raised $331,306 in the 2011-12 season from concert ticket sales, the annual fundraising gala and raffle, sponsorships, cash donations, program ad sales and other revenues. This is up from the $314,213 raised during the 2010-11 season.

McKnight added that the RDSO’s concerts are also continuing to sell out at the Red Deer College Arts Centre.

While she’s not sure where Klimchuk received her information, “We’re not angry at all about the minister’s comments. In fact, I was talking to Mary Anne Jablonski about it (Monday) and we had a good laugh,” said McKnight, who feels the Red Deer North MLA and her Red Deer South MLA colleague, Cal Dallas, are understanding of the RDSO’s position.

Having a $50,000 shortfall “has been a frustration, but our MLAs are glad to be working with us.”

Although provincial grants have fallen in recent years, McKnight said the RDSO is still grateful for the $54,000 received last July from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. “That’s nothing to sneeze at.”

And she’s feeling lighter about the RDSO’s $50,000 budgetary shortfall, after getting assurance from city council on Monday that it would be covered by a municipal grant. City councillors “are the heroes today,” she added.

That council support didn’t come without some opposition.

McKnight told council on Monday that the season could have been less costly if they knew about the shortfall in funding before the season was planned.

This year, the symphony has cut the popular Chamber series, reduced its education and outreach programs, and trimmed staff hours and reduced the wages of McKnight and RDSO music director Claude Laplame.

“We will still have to make further cuts,” said McKnight.

The cash infusion will come from the city’s Culture Managed Fund.

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said the RDSO puts Red Deer on the map as a player and it would simply not be Red Deer without the symphony.

Coun. Chris Stephan, who was the only member of council to vote against the grant, said the province made the cuts, not the city.

“I think we need to be fair to all the groups that come to us for assistance,” said Stephan. “And the appropriate time to do that is at budget. I think that when we do consider these one-off situations without considering our entire financial situation, it can lead to irresponsible decisions.”

RDSO board president Howard Mix said Tuesday: “It’s gratifying to live in a city that continues to focus on quality of life for its citizens, particularly during these fiscally challenging times . . . our councillors have demonstrated their commitment to ensuring that arts and culture remain alive in Red Deer.”

McKnight said the RDSO still intends to do some fundraising to try to cover part of the shortfall, “but this takes the pressure off.”

The RDSO also intends to reduce the cost of the next season. McKnight said this doesn’t mean it will be less entertaining. The orchestra intends to do more collaborations, exchanging services with other arts groups in the province.

For instance, the RDSO will play for the Edmonton Opera and, in exchange, will get some operatic guest soloists to perform at a Red Deer concert. “That will be tons of fun,” said McKnight.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Shanna Lydiard is upset to have had mail delivery cut off last month to her West Park street because of water main reconstruction. Delivery is to resume by May 19 at the latest, according to the City of Red Deer. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
West Park woman frustrated by mail delivery suspension due to construction

Shanna Lydiard said residents shouldn’t have to drive across the city for their mail

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen received his COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at Jackson’s Pharmacy in Innisfail. (Devin Creeshen Twitter photo)
COVID-19: Most local MLAs have received their first vaccine shot

Alberta’s NDP is encouraging all MLAs to get vaccinated and publicly promote… Continue reading

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

Bo's Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening.
(Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

The Bowden Institution medium security facility near Bowden has 15 active COVID-19 cases. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
15 active COVID-19 cases at Bowden prison

Bowden Institution has had 36 positive cases this year with 21 recovered and no deaths

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and several members of city council helped kick off the spring Green Deer cleanup campaign on Wednesday. Veer said city workers do their best to keep the city looking good, but need volunteer help to get rid of litter that has blown into bushes onto road sides over the winter. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)
Red Deer city councillors launch spring Green Deer campaign

Volunteers are needed to keep the city looking good

Hassan Diab holds a news conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa Friday, February 7 , 2020.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Canada must not extradite Diab regardless of coming French court decision: lawyer

Canada must not extradite Diab regardless of coming French court decision: lawyer

Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. Vancouver's mayor says he understands that some drug users aren't happy with the city's proposed model for decriminalization but time is of the essence and the details can be worked out later. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time for drug decriminalization redo

Vancouver mayor says there’s no time for drug decriminalization redo

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday, April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Saskatchewan Mountie charged with first-degree murder after man found dead in woods

Saskatchewan Mountie charged with first-degree murder after man found dead in woods

Garneau quarantine travel to Iceland raises government confusion over rules

Garneau quarantine travel to Iceland raises government confusion over rules

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. After repeatedly voting non-confidence in the minority Liberal government, the Bloc Quebecois is now calling on the government to do everything possible to avoid an election during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
BQ calls on Liberals to avoid pandemic election, despite voting non-confidence

BQ calls on Liberals to avoid pandemic election, despite voting non-confidence

U.K. study says expect more reactions from mixing Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines

U.K. study says expect more reactions from mixing Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines

In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is pictured in a pharmacy in Boulogne Billancourt, outside Paris. Questions remained Wednesday about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, as Manitoba limited use of the shot and Ontario announced it planned to save an incoming shipment to use as second doses.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Christophe Ena, File
Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

Questions remain about the future of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot in Canada

Singer Celine Dion performs during her first World Tour show called Courage Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Songbird Uncaged: Celine Dion readies return to Las Vegas stage for 10-date run

Songbird Uncaged: Celine Dion readies return to Las Vegas stage for 10-date run

Most Read