Vector Wellington Orchestra fears it and the better-funded New Zealand Symphony Orchestra could be forced to compete for work, or even merge, as an outcome of a review of the country's orchestras.
Wellington Orchestra says it is possible that the NZSO will have to contest with New Zealand's four regional orchestras for some of its funding. This could limit national touring and the NZSO would have to make up the difference by seeking more work in Wellington Orchestra's patch. ''We are not being paranoid, that is the reality. It would have a detrimental effect not just on the orchestral sector but also on wider arts activities in the region,'' Wellington Orchestra general manager Adan Tijerina said.
More than $13 million of $17 m of central government funding to orchestras goes to the NZSO. Wellington Orchestra gets $365,000.
A Culture and Heritage Ministry discussion paper released last month highlighted a need for change, amid concerns that rising funding and falling ticket sales have made the sector unsustainable.
The Ministry also contracted an overseas expert, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra secretary general Avi Shoshani, to write a report used to develop the discussion paper. Shoshani has suggested merging the NZSO and Wellington Orchestra to save money. Mr Tijerina said the suggestion was ''concerning''.
NZSO chief executive Christopher Blake said he did not want to speculate on where policy makers may end up. ''The NZSO's role is really clearly spelt out in its legislation. We do try to take care not to encroach on the domains of the other orchestras.''
Auckland Philharmonia, which gets $2.2 m from central government, had been critical of the review and wants more funding.
Mr Tijerina said the Philharmonia was already getting its fair share and was ''acting quite aggressively'' in seeking more more funding.
Auckland Philharmonia chief executive Barbara Glaser said it needed more money from central government to be able to carry out the demands of being an orchestra in the country's most populous region. ''I certainly don't think we've been aggressive in our approach. I think we've been assertive and I wouldn't expect us to be anything else.''
A six-member reference group, appointed by the Culture and Heritage Ministry, helped guide the review team. It included Lloyd Williams, Auckland Philharmonia's former general manager. None of the members had worked for Wellington Orchestra or the NZSO.
Mr Tijerina said Wellington Orchestra had no problem with Mr Williams being on the reference group. ''Our orchestra knows Lloyd and Lloyd knows the sector very well. Despite his past, we feel he is one of the most objective of that group.''
The public has until August 26 to comment on the review.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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