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Is the classical music economy tanking?

Advertising for New York City Opera's performance of 'Anna Nicole' is seen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music where it performed until recently on October 2, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The New York City Opera, a 70 year-old cultural institution, has canceled all of its upcoming season as of Tuesday after declaring its intention to file for bankruptcy.

If you read the headlines, it would certainly seem what you might call the classical music economy is tanking. A conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra recently left his job, and the New York City Opera recently announced it’s going to close its doors this month.

“We value creativity and its flourishing, and we haven’t quite figured out how to pay for it,” says Marketplace’s economics guy, Chris Farrell.

Many musicians and other creative professionals rely on side jobs to make a living, known as “moonlighting.” This, Farrell says, has become a financial requirement, rather than a supplemental source of income.

“Part of the whole discussion we’re having right now with this Affordable Care Act is about how do you have a health care system and a retirement system that’s portable, that allows for people to be more creative and more entrepreneurial, as opposed to having to be with an employer like a symphony orchestra.”

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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