Historic Danish orchestra silenced forever

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Historic Danish orchestra silenced forever
The culture minister allowed DR to go through with its budget cuts, spelling the end of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra. Photo: Jonas Skovbjerg Fogh/Scanpix

The 75-year-old Danish National Chamber Orchestra will lay down its instruments for good after the culture minister and public broadcaster DR come to terms on a new public service agreement.


In the end, neither a viral video nor a political majority proved enough to save the Danish National Chamber Orchestra (DR’s UnderholdningsOrkestret).
Culture Minister Marianne Jelved said on Tuesday that she has signed a new public-service agreement with broadcaster DR that will see the 42-person orchestra shut down as planned. 
Jelved said that although a majority of parliament was against the closing of the orchestra, politicians were unable to come up with a realistic alternative for funding it.
“The majority behind the approval [of the public service agreement] is not in agreement on the need to renegotiate the deal. There has not been a majority for that at any point. Therefore, the orchestra will not be saved,” Jelved said in a press release. 
Opposition parties Venstre, the Danish People’s Party (DF) and the Conservatives, along with the left-wing Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) all opposed the orchestra’s closure and argued that Jelved couldn’t simply ignore the political resistance to shutting it down.
Enhedslisten’s Jørgen Arbo-Bæhr even called it “immoral” that DR would close down the orchestra despite being obligated to operate it under the public-service contract, which is periodically renovated with the Culture Ministry. 
Jelved however argued that getting overly involved in DR’s operations goes against the ‘arms’ length principle' in place between the Danish state and the public broadcaster. 
Following Tuesday’s decision to sign the agreement with DR as-is and allow the orchestra to close, DF issued a call for Jelved to resign. 
“This just shows that the minister at no time wished to listen to a majority of parliament. Min confidence in Marianne Jelved is very minimal now and I am of the opinion that she should step down,” DF’s Morten Marinus told Altinget. 
The closure of the 75-year-old Danish National Chamber Orchestra comes as part of a plan to cut 161 million kroner per year from DR’s budget. In addition to eliminating the orchestra, DR also called for the elimination of up to 200 jobs. 
The Danish National Chamber Orchestra enjoyed a bit of time in the international spotlight recently when a video of musicians performing after eating hot chills went viral. The video has been seen nearly three million times. 


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