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Press Releases - County Council

Statement from Council's Education & Culture Committee on National Philharmonic's plan to cease operations

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 16, 2019

ROCKVILLE, Md., July 16, 2019—Today the National Philharmonic issued a press release stating that it is preparing to close due to ongoing financial shortfalls.  Created in 2003, the National Philharmonic was part of the opening of the Music Center at Strathmore.  Since 2005, the National Philharmonic has been Strathmore’s ongoing orchestra-in-residence.  Throughout the last decade, Montgomery County has provided over $2.5 million in both general operating and gap funding to support the National Philharmonic through direct support and grants made from the Arts and Humanities Council. Council President Nancy Navarro and Education and Culture Committee Chair Craig Rice made the following statements on National Philharmonic’s decision to close.   

“The National Philharmonic has entertained countless residents with world-renowned artists performing symphonic masterpieces at the highest level of artistic creatively and supported our young people with musical education,” said Council President Navarro. “Over the years, Montgomery County has provided more than $2.5 million to support the operations of the National Philharmonic, and it’s disappointing that the organization wasn’t able to leverage these investments into a financially sustainable model. As the County begins to look at equity across all our investments, this level of investment isn’t sustainable for one organization over the long term.  My hope is that these artists will reach out to our Arts and Humanities Council to help cultivate new artistic endeavors that will continue to enrich our community.”   

“The Council has sustained and recently increased investments in the arts, humanities and entertainment because these are important components for our quality of life,” said Councilmember Rice. “In this case, we have invested in National Philharmonic, even supporting them in the development of a new strategic plan as we saw their previous business model continue to falter.  National Philharmonic, like orchestras across the nation, are facing difficult financial times and rethinking their business models.  Despite heavy investments by the state and Montgomery County, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra recently canceled its summer season and earlier this year, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra revamped its pension plan to secure the orchestra’s long-term financial stability.   

“While we are disappointed that National Philharmonic has decided to close, we understand the financial pressures behind the decision.  We express our appreciation to the artists and staff for their years of service to our community and thank Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski, Board Chair Todd Eskelsen and President Leanne Ferfolia for their leadership.”  

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Release ID: 19-251
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926, Juan Jovel 240-777-7931