Hawaii Symphony—Facing Chapter 7?

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November 22, 2010; Source: Pacific Business News | The Honolulu Symphony filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a year ago at 110 years old hoping to reorganize. Now, the “word on the street” suggests that it may be considering a Chapter 7 bankruptcy—focused on dissolution.

There is a lot of blaming going on but part of the back-story here is a longstanding stalemate between the Musicians Association of Hawaii and the Honolulu Symphony Society. At question is the size of the symphony, length of the season, and pay. The musicians seem to believe that the symphony has been doing nothing to save itself over the past year biding time until its next court date on December 13. The symphony is not saying what it hopes the outcome to be.

Apparently, the Symphony may have more than one class of critics. In another article, Barry Weinman, a philanthropist and chairman of the University of Hawaii Foundation’s board of trustees says that money is not the issue and that the symphony had distanced itself from its constituents and lost their support.

UH has just completed a large capital campaign in which it was able to far exceed its own goal even while giving in Hawaii is generally down. “Not to slam the Honolulu Symphony, but the symphony never understood who their customer was. They thought it was their board, their patrons, and themselves. And so consequently I don’t think they did a very good job in the community, and they lost the community support,” Weinman said.

These labor disputes at symphonies can be very intense as we saw in our Newswire about the Detroit Symphony.—Ruth McCambridge