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

Improving life for people with Alzheimer’s and their families is a priority for Raitt

The federal Conservatives deputy leader is dealing with the disease in her own home

PHOTO: International Peace Day

Visitors broke bread, made crafts and trading cards at a gathering marking… Continue reading

Snowfall warning issued for Central Alberta

Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for Central Alberta Friday afternoon. Warning… Continue reading

POLL: Most Red Deerians don’t want cell phones in the classroom

Sixty-six per cent of Advocate readers who responded to an on-line poll… Continue reading

Grassroots movement to clean up Red Deer is gaining momentum

Homeless people need more attention than shopping carts, says former councillor Cindy Jefferies

Updated: Grey Cup in Red Deer to raise funds for military families

Money raised will go to the Military Family Resource Centre and be used locally

Dustin Byfuglien scores in overtime, Jets beat Flames 4-3 in pre-season

WINNIPEG — Bryan Little tied the game late in the third and… Continue reading

Mistrial denied in Calgary murder trial over jury’s visit to hotel Denny’s

CALGARY — A Calgary judge has denied a request for a mistrial… Continue reading

Former Canadian astronaut says space shuttle is a vehicle of hope

OTTAWA — Sending messages of hope from space is a big part… Continue reading

Canada requests trade panel on uncoated groundwood paper ruling by U.S.

OTTAWA — Canada has requested a NAFTA trade panel review a U.S.… Continue reading

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

SURREY, B.C. — Three First Nations in British Columbia gathered today to… Continue reading

Tail with a happy ending: Dog rescued from fighting ring, ready for police work

Dallas’s ear-to-ear grin and bright brown eyes seem to sparkle with joy.… Continue reading

Liberal leader doubles down on notion that $75 weekly grocery bill is possible

MONTREAL — One day after being ridiculed for saying it was possible… Continue reading

Jury resumes deliberating man’s guilt in Calgary mother of four’s death

CALGARY — Jurors are continuing to deliberate the guilt of a man… Continue reading

Most Read