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THE SCOOP | Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Admin, Musicians React In The Wake Of Season Cancellation

By Anya Wassenberg on September 20, 2023

Musicians of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (Image courtesy of the artists)
Musicians of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (Image courtesy of the artists)

On September 19, the Board of Directors of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony issued a statement with the headline Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Announces Potential Ceasing of Operations. A few days after letting musicians know they wouldn’t be called back to work, the Board calls it a “difficult decision was made after months of exhaustive efforts to secure the funding required to sustain the symphony”.

“Our hearts go out to the many people in our community who have been deeply affected by the cancellation of our season.” said Rachel Smith-Spencer, Chair of the Board of Directors. “Despite our persistent efforts over the last year, we have been unable to secure the funding necessary to continue our operations this season.”

The statement goes on to cite rising costs, and the difficulty of recovery after the pandemic in a time of rising inflation. The Board reached out to various levels of government, along with private donors, to ask for the additional funding needed to get through 2023/24.

The KWS will need about $2 million CAD in additional funding in order to continue operations.

“Our focus at the moment is on the musicians, staff, and Youth Orchestra, who put significant energy and love into preparing the 2023/24 season,” said Rachel Smith-Spencer. “We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support for our musicians that has come in from our local community and the music community. In the coming few days, I look forward to having meaningful conversations about how we can secure a sustainable future for symphonic music in Waterloo Region.”

Musicians Band Together

The musicians of the KWS have launched a Facebook page to spotlight their situation. In a social media post, the organization expressed what they all must be feeling, and launched a fundraising initiative.

“Today was supposed to be the first rehearsal of the season — a return to doing what we love, for people who love what we do. Three days ago, we learned that instead of being at work, waiting for the downbeat, we would be at home, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Today, we learned that KWS is “exploring all possible options up to and including insolvency.” The other shoe has dropped, with a thud. Our Board of Directors says that two million dollars of new funding would be necessary to avert this disaster.

Right now, we aren’t interested in pointing fingers or assigning blame — we are focused on finding a way to save the orchestra we all love. We don’t know right now what can be done, but we are going to figure it out and we are going to do it. KWS has been performing for the people of Waterloo Region for 78 years. We are not going to stand by and watch it vanish in the blink of an eye.”

The Gofundme page currently sits at over $77K in donations. More information and to donate [HERE].

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