Springs Symphony Files for Bankruptcy

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The executive director of the Colorado Springs Symphony says the group has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Larry Barrett says lawyers for the symphony filed the paperwork
for the bankruptcy in court in Denver Friday. Union spokesman Alan Isaacson says the 85 musicians plan to attend rehearsals and play in concerts while the orchestra works out its finances.

The orchestra carries $950,000 in debt and lacks the $217,000 cash to pay its musicians next week.

The musicians won't be getting their paycheck next week, and may have to take a pay cut or future concerts could be cancelled. But the musicians say they aren't making much money as it is.

On average, a musician in the Colorado Springs Symphony earns about $13,000 a year. And many of them have graduate and post-graduate degrees. Isaacson says most musicians have to take a second job to make ends meet. "They are part of the artistic lifeblood of Colorado Springs and when the board or directors is so reckless and does such a poor job with the management of the organization that they have to come to the lowest paid employees to bail them out, something is very, very wrong."

Isaacson says he can't understand why the symphony is broke at a time when ticket sales and donations are up. Barrett admits revenues are up. "We are witnessing donations and ticket sales this year greater than last year."

But Barrett says the symphony has been living beyond its means for a long time---working under a contract that was negotiated two years ago when the economy was much healthier. And he says nearly half of the symphony's annual $3.5 million budget goes to paying musicians. "We've been spending too much money on the orchestral side of the equation relative to what this community can afford."

The musicians say they'll keep showing up for rehearsals and concerts for now. And they hope their conductor, Lawrence Leighton Smith will too. Earlier this week, Smith said he'd resign if the symphony filed for bankruptcy.