Meeting the challengeWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, here is some sweet music.
We have been opposed to the Toledo Symphony Orchestra’s (TSO) request for $10,000 in public funds for its May trip to play Carnegie Hall in New York City. We have nothing but respect for the TSO, but we strongly believe this is an inopportune time to use public money for anything other than the most essential needs.
So Dec. 12, we extended a challenge to our business community.
Rather than complain without offering a solution, it was our goal to raise the funds from private sources, $1,000 per pledge, and respectfully ask Mayor Mike Bell to withdraw the request for funds from the Toledo CityParks trust.
We are pleased to announce that this goal has been met and we will deliver the news in person to City Council on Dec. 21.
It is a testament to the community’s respect for the TSO — and to its impatience with how public funds are sometimes spent — that our friends stepped up to meet the challenge.
The first company to join us was Clear Channel, courtesy of General Manager Andy Stuart, who also serves on the TSO Board of Directors. We soon heard from Fifth Third Bank; Owens Community College; Rohrbachers, Cron, Manahan, Trimble & Zimmerman Co.; Romilio (Rome) Marinelli; Columbia Gas of Ohio; Toledo Edison; Dunbar Mechanical; Duke Wheeler Jr.; Paul and Carol Kraus; and some friends who have asked to donate anonymously. We profusely thank all of them for their contributions.
All of these benefactors and people praised the symphony and its ambitious trip to New York City and have contributed to making sure the TSO trip can be made without public funds. As we have reported, no other American symphony attending the Carnegie Hall event — even those that annually receive public money — has requested public funds for the trip.
As we approached the $9,000 mark, we ran into Mayor Bell at Table Forty 4 on Dec. 14. Not only did he agree to withdraw the request for public funds once we met the goal, he pledged $1,000 of his own cash to ensure we did.
That is putting your money where your mouth is.
After our comments on the symphony’s request, we received a flurry of e-mailed criticism from former TSO President and CEO Robert Bell, who wrote that Toledo Free Press demonstrated “a lack of sensitivity and understanding of where the orchestra fits in the cultural landscape of our community” and that Toledo Free Press appears “unable to grasp the common sense and practical value of our contribution to the quality of life and the need to nurture in every way possible our work on behalf of our fine City.”
While Robert Bell has not contacted us since we publicly announced our goal to help raise the $10,000. Now that we have, we hope he will re-evaluate his thoughts on Toledo Free Press and our understanding of how important the arts in general and the symphony specifically are to Toledo.
We invite him and TSO President and CEO Kathy Carroll to join us in Council Chambers on Dec. 21 as we stand with Mayor Bell to present our exciting news to Council. And while we cannot lead the charge on every cause, we hope all involved will think about talking to the private sector before making the next similar request for public money.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.