ARG-116

The following appeared in a memo from a budget planner for the city of Grandview.

"When the Grandview Symphony was established ten years ago, the city of Grandview agreed to provide the symphony with annual funding until the symphony became self-sustaining. Two years ago, 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 tripled and attendance at the symphony's outdoor summer concert series has reached record highs. Now that the symphony has succeeded in finding an audience, the city can eliminate its funding of the symphony."


Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.


In this memo, the budget planner for the city of Grandview states that, since the hiring of an internationally known conductor two years ago, the symphony has been receiving increased private contributions, and attendance at the outdoor summer concert series has reached record highs; therefore, he believes that the city can eliminate its funding to the symphony. However, while the symphony may truly be able to survive without funding from the city due to its seemingly outstanding success, it is clear that there are a number of assumptions made by the budget planner when he claims the discontinuation of the funding to be feasible.


To begin with, the budget planner makes the assumption that the arrival of an internationally known conductor would be beneficial to the Grandview Symphony; however, what is not mentioned in the memo is how much hiring this renown conductor is costing the symphony. The symphony, most likely, was able to hire such a well-known conductor because they had money provided by the city to do so. If the conductor works at a steep rate, and he/she is attracting high-profile guest musicians, who also need to be paid high, the symphony’s expenses are sure to increase sharply.


The budget planner also mentions that, since the hiring of the conductor, private contributions have tripled, 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 tripling 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. 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.


Additionally, the budget planner still makes the assumption that record-breaking attendance at the symphony’s outdoor summer concert series are directly correlated to an increase in ability to gather crowds. Even if the audience numbers have truly been record-breaking, we still need to question how much profit these brings 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 summer concert 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 the summer, 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.


Even if the arrival of said international conductor does indeed benefit the orchestra, private contributions are significant, and the orchestra’s ability to gain audience members have increased, there still remains the assumption that all of these aspects will continue in the future. If they don’t, the orchestra may suffer great losses. For example, if, in the future, the internationally known conductor decides to retire or quit, the symphony could potentially lose all of the high-profile musicians brought in by said conductor. What’s more, if economic conditions become increasingly tight in the future, the symphony may not be able to afford to pay the salaries of all these new high-profile musicians, and they would end up losing a significant amount of money, which could endanger the symphony financially and weaken their chances for future success. If any of the above cases were to be true, then there would be room for doubt in his suggestion that the city can stop funding the symphony.


Finally, even if all of the above assumptions are valid, there is still one lapse in the budget manager's memo that we need to consider. Can we be certain that eliminating city funding will not negatively affect the symphony? 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. What's more, the symphony’s current success may be indebted to the city’s funding. If any of the above statements are true, then the budget planner's recommendation would be weakened.


In conclusion, while the symphony has enjoyed respectable success since the hiring of their new conductor and the subsequent arrival of high profile musicians, the budget planner should not be hasty in his/her decision to eliminate city funding. If the symphony does not possess a sufficient amount of money to pay for their new conductor and musicians, private contributions are not enough to take the place of city funding, audience turnouts are not consistent, or endorsement from the city is necessary to the symphony, the budget planner's decision to eliminate city funds could potentially catapult the symphony into an economic maelstrom. Therefore, all assumptions made in the memo should be carefully considered.



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