The Red Deer Symphony Orchestra, a community-oriented professional performing arts organization, made a request through the city's Recreation and Culture Department for a standard operating budget of $125,000 to help ease fundraising pressure.

Unfortunately, the funding request was voted down at the September 4th council meeting. Had it been approved it would have also made them ineligible for the Community Culture Development Fund (CCDF), in favour of a more reliable revenue stream.

Executive Director of the Symphony Orchestra Chandra Kastern says being unsure of their financial stability year after year can make it difficult to secure performing artists, as professional musicians are not always readily available, nor cheap, and often have to be contracted to play months or even years before the actual performance.

“The crux of our debate is that we are a cultural asset, so we’re not necessarily a physical place, but we do bring a lot of value to the city of Red Deer. When folks look to move to Red Deer, they look at, ‘well what do they for culture, what do they have for arts?’, and we are listed everywhere as one of the selling benefits of why someone would want to move to Red Deer.”

Kastern says that normally they are able to raise 80% of their operating budget on their own, but it's becoming more and more difficult.

“When you get into harder economic times and the arts is always the first thing to kind of be tossed to the wayside. So the last number of years has been an incredible challenge for the orchestra to be able to survive, and we are asking the city of standing operating funding so that we can better weather these kinds of storms.”

They plan to have another chance to get Red Deer council talking about their request when council goes to debate their operating budget in January.

Operating for 32 years, the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra employs 28 musicians and can draw up to 700 people to their shows.

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