GREEN BAY – An online push is underway to save the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra.
The century-old orchestra announced last week it was shutting down because of money problems caused in part by poor attendance.
Violinist Larry Frye has spent more than four decades repairing and playing the symphony’s instruments.
“I play with the civic symphony. However, I did play 15 seasons with green bay symphony,” said Frye.
Frye said he was shocked the symphony didn’t have the funds to continue.
“How can something that’s been around for 101 years stop being there?” he asked.
Frye said the symphony switched to a paid professional model in 1995.
“Almost everybody, except for a handful of people, were eliminated,” said Frey.
That’s when the mostly unpaid Civic Symphony was born.
The group sold out performances at the smaller Meyer Theatre this year. It seats 950.
The Green Bay Symphony struggled to fill the Weidner Center, which holds 1,800.
“Do you think it’s difficult in this market to support two symphonies?” asked FOX 11’s Kelly Schlicht. “They’re two totally different groups with two different missions. I think it’s been a source of pride for a lot of people in Green Bay,” said Frye.
A local group called Save the Green Bay Symphony has started a Facebook page. It now has more likes than the actual page for the Green Bay symphony. We tried to reach out to that group.
Members didn’t want to go on camera, but said, “there is an incredible amount of support for a new professional symphony and many in the community (benefactors) are excited to support a new-found effort.”
The symphony says it’s kept an eye on the page.
“Few of those people are ever folks who have come to a symphony concert or have ever donated to the symphony. So, so far, what we’ve seen is it’s a whole lot easier to hit the like button on Facebook,” said Green Bay Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Dan Linssen.
Frye says though one curtain will fall next year, the show will always go on somewhere in the city.
Linssen says switching to a smaller venue would not save the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra enough money. The orchestra would need a $5 million endowment to continue long term.