Symphony Orchestras

The Minister of Culture and Heritage, Christopher Finlayson, is asking for suggestions on a better way to fund our main orchestras. The government allocates $17m a year to fund these orchestras and says there is no more money available. Numbers attending concerts are dropping so money from ticket sales is less than before.

These are four regional orchestras – one each in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin – and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the NZSO. The regional orchestras get $3.5m in total while the NZSO gets $13.5m.

The NZSO has 90 full-time players whereas the players in the other orchestras are part-time and are paid for concerts or when they accompany a ballet or opera. The NZSO tours throughout the country, giving more than 100 concerts a year. NZSO concerts are recorded for Radio New Zealand Concert. The NZSO also records music for films. It is a world class orchestra and has sometimes toured overseas. The Minister calls the NZSO “the jewel in the cultural crown” of New Zealand.

All the orchestras have sponsors to help with funding but now more money is needed. If you go to orchestra concerts in New Zealand you can give your ideas about the future of our orchestras by August 20th. Go to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage website.


• fund – pay, give money
• allocate – give some money for different things e.g. $X to this and $Y to that
• jewel – a precious stone e.g. a diamond
• culture – art, music, literature, theatre, ballet, opera
• sponsor – a business helps to fund the orchestra; the concert sometimes uses the name of the business e.g. The Smith Company Concert.


• Why do you think numbers attending orchestra concerts have dropped in the last four years?
• What does “the jewel the cultural crown” mean?

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