Stimulus funds will save Cedar Rapids orchestra jobs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Stimulus funds will save Cedar Rapids orchestra jobs


CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Federal grants to 64 orchestras will preserve jobs in communities nationwide, including Cedar Rapids, thanks to awards totaling $2.6 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Orchestra Iowa will use the $25,000 grant it received to help preserve its 82-member orchestra. 13 of those members, musicians in the string quartet, woodwind quintet, and brass quintet, comprise the core and receive one-third to one-half their annual living wages from the Orchestra. The grant comes at a critical time for the Orchestra as it lost a long-time sponsor this past year.

"Artistic positions in orchestras across America are at risk of being eliminated or having salaries reduced due to the struggling economy," said Orchestra Iowa Executive Director Robert Massey. "Orchestra Iowa has just negotiated a two-year union contract with its musicians that preserve every job at or above its previous salary."

The National Endowment for the Arts acted swiftly upon Congressional and Presidential approval of $50 million in economic stimulus funding in late February. It is one of the first federal agencies to disseminate stimulus funding in support of local economies. The federal funds will give orchestras the human resources they need to continue fulfilling vital aspects of their missions, including preserving concerts that would have been eliminated, keeping education programs intact, and maintaining a full range of repertoire and artistic offerings.

"America's orchestras fuel local economies, attract new business development, spark the imaginations of young people, and, through the power of music, unite individuals and cultures in times of challenge as well as celebration," said League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen. "These stimulus funds will enable orchestras to continue making meaningful contributions to community cultural life while helping to stabilize their local economies."

The arts industry generates millions of jobs and is an essential contributor to the economic and cultural vitality of the United States. $63 million is generated in the Cultural Corridor alone.

A full list of recipient orchestras may be found on the National Endowment for the Arts website:

Founded in April 1921, Orchestra Iowa is one of the oldest symphony orchestras in continuous operation west of the Mississippi River. Its 82 professional musicians perform more than 120 public performances throughout Eastern Iowa each year, many of which can be heard on Iowa Public Radio and seen on Iowa Public Television.

In June 2008, floods destroyed the Orchestra's administrative office, school, and performance home-the Paramount Theatre. Orchestra Iowa thanks all those in the community who have and continue to support it through this difficult time and appreciates your patience as we rebuild.

Online Producer: Jason Mortvedt

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