Eugene Symphony Finances Echo The Rest Of The Arts World

Eugene is fortunate that Scott Freck spent the past 11 years in his home state working tirelessly as the executive director of the Eugene Symphony.

EW’s headline announcing Freck’s unexpected resignation (“Symphony Head Resigns,” EW online 4/13) implied his departure was due to financial woes. The article mentions (some but not all) of Freck’s reasons for leaving, then simultaneously discredits them, suggesting instead that “increasing financial concerns behind the scenes” may be the true cause.

EW credits two unnamed “insiders.” The information these “insiders” have provided the EW is hardly newsworthy for anyone who follows the arts carefully. Arts attendance is down significantly post-COVID. Operating costs are up tremendously. Thankfully, the local impact on attendance is less than in many places. Still, the impact is real. And even with decent attendance, local costs of production have risen dramatically.

Many arts groups projected deficits across the county this year. Many will continue to do it for another year, maybe two. Guthrie Theatre Artistic Director Joseph Haj, who was rehearsing a play at Oregon Shakespeare Festival when COVID shut our state down, predicted that it would take arts organizations until 2025 to recover.

Eugene Symphony can withstand these deficits thanks to its history of strong leadership under Freck and his predecessors. And, in Freck’s role as a board member for the Cultural Advocacy Coalition, he has fought hard to secure resources for other organizations.

Now is the time to be calling for increased support for the arts in our community and our state. And not for sensationalized reporting.

Craig Willis


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