The Dominion Post [Wellington, NZ] - 5 August 2004
By Leanne Bell
The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) predicts it will need another taxpayer handout to stop it sliding into debt over the next three years. The NZSO is expecting debts which will peak at NZ$1.353 million in 2006/2007, according to its Statement of Intent, made public yesterday.
But the Government is not making any promise that it will bail the orchestra out. "They don't need bailing out ó they are not in debt," Arts, Cultural and Heritage Associate Minister Judith Tizard said. Their funding would be reviewed when the Government looked at next year's budget.
Four years ago, the Government injected an extra NZ$3 million into the NZSO and gave it an additional NZ$1.4 million annually.
Prime Minister and Arts Culture and Heritage Minister Helen Clark said at the time the NZSO should not expect to be bailed out again. She said then that the Government was concerned that the NZSO had not stuck to its budget despite having been bailed out several years earlier.
Tizard said it would look sympathetically at NZSO's needs next year but there was "no guarantee". "They are expected to manage within their budget and they have done that magnificently; they have increased their audience and they are providing magnificent music."
But NZSO predicts that, without additional Government funding from July 1 next year, its cash resources would deteriorate to unsustainable levels and it would not be able to fulfil its objectives under the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Act 2004.
Salaries, artist fees, venue hire and advertising rates were rising. NZSO deputy chief executive Brian Burge said it was expensive to run and tour an orchestra. "It is inevitable with NZ$300,000 to NZ$350,000 cost increases every year and no movement in the government funding, which is 70 per cent of our funding ... we will go into deficit."
According to the Budget 2004, it received NZ$11.39 million including GST in the 2003/2004 year and is to get the same in 2004/2005. But the orchestra predicts a growing deficit of NZ$1.22 million in 2004/2005, NZ$1.06 million the following year and NZ$1.353 million in 2006/2007.
[The opposition] National [Party]'s arts spokeswoman Georgina te Heuheu said taxpayers could not be expected to keep bailing out the NZSO. "No organisation, no matter how worthy they think they are, has a right to expect that the Government will bail them out when they get into difficulties," she said.
Despite gloomy predictions, the NZSO aspires to tour internationally, boost its 90-strong orchestra by eight musicians, expand its education programme and increase subscription concerts by five a year to 45, after it sorts out its financial troubles.
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