A violinist I know who's part of The New Millennium Orchestra told me they're working on a business plan these days. Up to now, if they had money they paid the musicians; if they didn't, everyone played for free. The musicians are all young, energetic, and very hard working. They travel long distances to teach to make enough money to continue with their art. Or their profession.
They grapple with making old music fresh. When an orchestra looks bored, they lose connection with their audience, even if they're still playing well--anyone looked at the CSO strings lately while they're playing Brahms?
I was listening to my violinist acquaintance the day after reading Libby's recent Dispatches from the Road. On the one hand, there are far too many gifted writers who are scrambling, like Declan Burke, to make any kind of income from the many hours of toil they put into their work. And on the other hand there are some writers going through the motions: maybe a series has run out of steam and either out of laziness, or market position, or because the publisher won't take anything else, we keep sawing away like a tired violinist playing Brahms' 4th for the 4004th time.
Musicians get typecast just like writers, I learned. If you play with a dynamic young group like 8th Blackbird, now in residence at the University of Chicago, you can't get playing gigs for doing 18th or 19th century music: you are strictly a "new music" group.
How do you keep a sense of freshness to your writing when you're writing what your publisher wants, not what you want? How do you keep your writing from being mechanical if you measure your work in words per day? How do you keep going at all if you can't get into print, or can't sell enough copies when you're in print (the issue Declan was confronting.)
An orchestra can establish itself as a 501-C-3 and apply for grants or other tax-deductible support. Maybe the Outfit needs to establish a charitable arm that supports road trips for writers. We travel great distances at great expense to bring our art to tiny audiences. If we had a charity that gave grants to members on the road, at least we'd cover our costs. What do you think?