ARG-114

The following appeared in a memo to the board of the Grandview Symphony.

"The city of Grandview has provided annual funding for the Grandview Symphony since the symphony's inception ten years ago. Last year the symphony hired an internationally known conductor, who has been able to attract high-profile guest musicians to perform with the symphony. Since then, private contributions to the symphony have doubled and attendance at the symphony's concerts-in-the-park series has reached new highs. Now that the Grandview Symphony is an established success, it can raise ticket prices. Increased revenue from larger audiences and higher ticket prices will enable the symphony to succeed without funding from the city government."


Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.


In this memo, the author recommends that the city of Grandview eliminate its funding for the Grandview Symphony. While this may be the case, close scrutiny reveals that the conclusion lacks critical support and therefore we need more evidence to help evaluate the argument.


First of all, the author mentions that last year the orchestra hired an internationally renowned conductor, so he thinks this will attract more guest musicians. But first we need to know whether this conductor will attract good musicians. If there is evidence that the conductor is reclusive and not well-connected in the music world, then his presence will not help to attract good musicians to the orchestra. In addition, even if the musician can attract talent, we need to know whether the resulting recruitment of good musicians will help the symphony orchestra. If local audiences are not interested in performances by high-end musicians, then the original conclusion is weakened.


In addition, the budget planner mentions that private contributions have doubled, which could be anticipatory of a supposition that this revenue would be able to fill the absence of the city's funding; however, while a doubling in contributions is quantitative progress, we are unaware of the original amount of contributions, and, therefore, cannot be certain that the current amount will be able to fill the gap. It is possible that the proportion in the expenses of the symphony which comes from private funding account only for a small part, most of which come from the city government. In this case, even with a 200-percent increase, the symphony could still unable to survive next year without the help of the city. Furthermore, if the symphony does not have enough money to pay off all of their new expenses with the private contributions, the budget planner’s proposition regarding the elimination of city funds to the symphony would be rendered questionable, as the symphony could end up struggling to make ends meet. However, if it turns out that the doubling in personal donations could cover the majority of the symphony’s expenses, the author’s prediction will be strengthened.


Similarly, the budget planner offers the doubling in the attendance at the symphony’s concerts series as evidence for the discontinuation in the funding from the city. Here, we need to ask how much profit these concert series bring in for the orchestra. These could simply be low-cost events to spread recognition, and the profit reaped by these events could be minimal. Furthermore, the budget planner only mentions this concerts-in-the-park series, can we be certain that attendance numbers will be similar for other concert series in the future? If this event is special in any certain way, or attendants have more leisure time to participate in such events during a fixed period of the year, leading to increased attendance, while other events hosted by the symphony, in comparison, are lackluster or scheduled at inconvenient times during the year, then audience numbers would not be likely to remain consistent. If this were to be the case, the symphony could end up losing money.


Furthermore, another piece of evidence that is in need revolves around the efficacy of the increase in ticket prices. To be more specific, will the symphony’s targeted audiences accept the new price? The reason why the symphony accepted the funding form both the city government and individual is probably that the purchasing power of local residents is limited. Thus, if the higher price frightens away the potential audience and makes the symphony lose even more money, the author’s proposal would be challenged. In addition, will the higher price cover the cost of the symphony? It is quite possible that without the help from the city government, some operation costs would increase in the future. Therefore, if the higher price still cannot cover the symphony’s daily expenditure, the author’s conclusion could still be invalidated.


Moreover, even if private contributions are significant, the orchestra’s ability to gain audience members have increased, and the higher price can contribute to a higher revenue, we still need to know whether the symphony could remain its success without the funding from the city. Perhaps the symphony is very successful and can provide for itself, but we still can't be certain that cutting off city funding is a feasible plan of action, because the city’s funding may be providing the symphony with a necessary endorsement, without which the symphony may lose its private contributions and reputations among audiences. If this is the case, then the budget planner's recommendation would be weakened.


To draw a conclusion, we need further proof to form a better evaluation of the argument. Only after weighing all of the evidence which serves to weaken the argument as well as those supporting the argument, can we come to a decision about the soundness of this argument.


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