Savannah Symphony Is Broke - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/17/03

Savannah Symphony Is Broke

If you haven't had a chance to hear the Savannah Symphony play, it may be too late. The symphony is canceling January's Masterworks series. The Savannah Symphony has had strong performances for the past 49 years, but now, the symphony is broke.

"Typical payroll is about $75,000 for staff and for orchestra members, and at this time we're pretty much short of all of it," said executive director Paul Chambers.

Fifteen-year Savannah Symphony clarinetist John Warren was expecting to pick up paychecks this morning.

"We found out about ten this morning. We didn't know that this was going to happen," he said.

The symphony's executive director says it's something they've been fighting for years.

"We knew we'd hit a wall at some point," admitted Chambers. "Although we were very confident that we'd do what we had been doing all along and keep raising payroll."

The musicians are disappointed that Saturday's scheduled performance with the Charleston Symphony and the rest of the month have been cancelled.

"In fairness I can't ask people to do services if we don't know right now if we can pay them for it," said Chambers.

But at this point, musicians are still wondering how they'll pay their bills.

"My wife and I both play in the symphony so our income is completely gone," said clarinetist Warren. "We have two kids. It's going to be a difficult time if we don't get this going again."

Now it's up to the symphony's supporters.

"I really hope the people of Savannah can use this time as a crisis to really get behind the Savannah Symphony," Warren said.

At this point, in order to bring the symphony back to life, they'll need to raise $300,000 by January 30 and an additional $500,000 in their second campaign of the season. If you had a ticket for Saturday's show, they'll be announcing what will be done with those and their plans for the future of the symphony on Tuesday.

Reported by: Holly Bristow, hbristow@wtoc.com

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