Friday, February 13, 2009


Happy Valentine's Day!!

I’ve been looking at patches of ground reappearing as the big thaw continues and we’re both beginning to think about spring planting. But I reminded Fritz that something else is upon us fairly quickly: maple sugar season.

The succession of warmish days and cold nights below freezing has begun, and sap is probably beginning to flow. By this time last year Fritz already had taps in the trees and sap was dripping into five gallon buckets. Possibly this weekend we’ll get the boiler and evaporator out of the barn and set it up by the wood pile.


This, of course, is wishful thinking at best and probably delusional:

Click to enlarge for easier reading of the commands.


The beat, as they say, goes on:

Connecticut Opera closes down, citing bad economy
By DAVE COLLINS – 1 day ago

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Opera has gone out of business after 67 seasons, the latest arts group to fall victim to the economic downturn and sagging charitable donations.

Opera board President Brooks Joslin said Thursday the decision to shut down was made late last week. The opera's bank account was frozen and funding sources had dried up.

The opera closed its Hartford office, laid off its half-dozen staff members and informed its 2,000 subscribers that they won't be getting their money back on two recently canceled springtime productions — "Daughter of the Regiment" in March and "La Boheme" in May.

Orchestras, ballets and opera companies across the country are facing huge deficits. The Los Angeles Opera is laying off 17 people, cutting salaries and will stage fewer performances this year. The Miami City Ballet is cutting eight dancers. The Baltimore Opera has declared bankruptcy.

The nonprofit group Americans for the Arts estimates 10,000 arts organizations could disappear in 2009. [emphasis mine]

Connecticut Opera board Chairman John Kreitler told The Hartford Courant that group is not filing for bankruptcy because that would cost too much. He said opera officials are working with creditors to resolve debts.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Thursday that his office is looking into the opera's shutdown and planned to request financial documents from the organization on Friday.

"The Connecticut Opera, like any nonprofit or profit-making company, has both moral and legal obligations to consumers and contributors," he said. "It makes promises to contributors about how it will use the money that is donated, and it owes the money back if it fails to fulfill those promises. It can't simply walk away from its obligations."

Blumenthal said his office will seek refunds for customers, and look into whether the financial problems were the result of failed good-faith efforts or problems such as mismanagement.

Connecticut Opera had a yearly budget of about $2 million. Ticket prices for its performances ranged from $25 to $100.

[excerpted slightly from the HARTFORD COURANT]

There are a number of worries here above and beyond the termination of performances for the public and the obvious loss of jobs for singers, musicians and theatrical technicians, administrators an artisans. Boston mayor Tom Menino said it very well one time when he was under pressure to knuckle under and replace the classic Fenway Park with one part of a sports megaplex, the other arm of which would be a huge stadium for the New England Patriots, their second brand new stadium in 18 years. Menino said flatly it wasn't what Boston needed, economically speaking.

Menino declared the city needed a performing arts center. Sports fans, he said, come into the city by the T or their cars; they pay their fare or their parking fee, buy five or six beers and a saussage and go home. Theater and opera-goers, on the other hand, come into the city for a weekend, take a hotel room, do a little shopping and sight-seeing, see a couple of performances, have some decent restaurant meals and go home having put some real money into the local economy.

Well, for that he was roundly booed about two weeks later at the send-off rally for the Patriots who were on their way to the Super Bowl. But he was right, and there are enough economic studies backing him up that you wonder, in our money-driven culture, why it's the arts that are the first thing to go when the crunch hits.

Other fallout is that these are old, established, mature companies with experience and community support behind them that are going under; replacing them with start from scratch operations when (if) the economy recovers will be a long, difficult process.

Also, in this era when the arts have been hounded out of our schools, it's the school outreach programs by theater, opera and dance companies, in addition to the local symphony orchestra, that may be the only exposure to the arts young children ever get. No matter what angle you view the current situation from, it's a lose-lose situation.

I'd love to drizzle some of that yummy syrup across a homemade pancake. Or waffle.
I am sorry to read of this loss.
Amazing that the Republicans demanded dropping the "pork" from the stimulus package that was designated to the arts.
Thanks for commenting on my brand new was much appreciated.
We have A WHOLE LOT OF THINGS in common!
I too find it sad to hear of arts closing - it touches on the nerve Americans don't care for art, seeing it as snotty and unnecessary and superfluous.
Belated Happy Valentine's Day to you, too! And I'm not going to comment on the arts-related piece, as this is just too depressing (and I really don't have much to add). Instead, I'll focus on the cat remote. That's genius! :)
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