April 20


Can Graham Weston save the Symphony?

The theme of this past weekend’s Americans for the Arts conference, held at the Grand Hyatt and the Pearl, was the New Normal, a sobering shorthand for the post-Great Recession United States, where philanthropic giving is in upheaval and culture has been scratched off many foundation’s to-do lists. Steep government cuts in basic social services have reoriented giving priorities that were already tilting toward education over straight-up art production, and hey, in Texas, someone has to support education.

“The age of entitlement is over,” is how one presenter put it, and he wasn’t talking about food stamps. Another nugget from a seminar I attended Saturday called “Private-Sector Funding in the New Normal”: People under 50 don’t give to institutions; they give to projects that capture their imagination. Think Luminaria and Graham Weston, or SA 2020 and Graham Weston.

To the extent that’s true, it surely has implications for the San Antonio Symphony, which has no choice but to be an institution if it’s going to continue to produce music in the classical tradition.

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