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Fourth of July celebration will feature fireworks, but not Firelands

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:47 PM

The good news first: Thanks largely to the efforts of the Norwalk Veterans of Foreign Wars, the city will have fireworks on the Fourth of July.

The display, which costs $13,000 with $3,000 from the city and the rest being raised mostly by the VFW, will take place at dusk at the Huron County Fairgrounds on July 4. Safety/Service Director Dale Sheppard said the VFW is still looking to top of their fundraising efforts, so anyone interested in making a donation can contact Post Commander Gary Felter at (419) 668-2164.

Now the bad news: The Firelands Symphony Orchestra's free concert, originally set for the Fourth, has been canceled because of a lack of funding.

Symphony principal flutist Tamara Kagy said the group will not perform its "Patriotic/Pops concert" in Norwalk, Put-In-Bay and Lorain. The lack of funding is a trend orchestras are facing across the country.

"While the concept of a free community-wide pops concert is a popular idea among the public, the reality is that the audience does not then come into the concert hall for the regular season as ticket buyers," Kagy said. "This creates a large gap between concert production costs and what foundations can provide."

Putting on a concert can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000, Kagy said, depending on who picks up the cost of the rehearsals. Those totals include things such as truck and hall rentals, insurance, mileage as well as royalties and fees for music. In addition to costs, she said the orchestra strives to maintain reasonable ticket prices $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and $7 for students.

"Too many orchestras in North America have been forced to close because they disregard the warning signs and forge ahead with what they perceive to be 'audience development' concerts," Kagy said. "The FSO will not fall into that trap and chooses instead to change its funding strategy and continue to raise its artistic quality so that all communities in its region will have easy access to a professional orchestra they can be proud of."

In addition to the elimination of the July 4 concert, the orchestra will not perform the Nutcracker anywhere this year. Kagy said the group will search for alternate funding avenues, but the only concert in Norwalk that is on the books right now is one slated for October. The last concert in the city sold just 75 of 1,200 tickets.

"That was very disappointing," Kagy said. "All those people who were part of the comprehensive plan arts and culture was a large part of that when you as citizen say 'that's what I want for my town,' you're honor bound to help."

However, hope is not lost for the Firelands Symphony Orchestra in Norwalk.

"We took a big chance when we expanded the entire season (to Norwalk) last year," Kagy said. "If people are loyal to orchestra then there's a good chance we will be back. The Firelands Symphony has in no way given up on Norwalk. We just need to make some decisions so everyone will have an orchestra that's in tact."

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