Budget shortfall silences Labor Day concerts Corporate sponsors to be sought for next year's events


Just as there was no rockets' red glare over Downs Park in Pasadena on the Fourth of July, there will be no music in the air at Downs or Quiet Waters parks over the Labor Day weekend. County officials have canceled the annual Annapolis Symphony concerts because they cost too much.

The $30,000 price tag was too extravagant in a year when county employees were being threatened with losing their jobs, Jay Cuccia, assistant to the county parks administrator, said yesterday.

"It's basically the same underlying issue that we had with the fireworks. We just had a problem asking for money for those types of events . . . when we were being asked to lay people off," Mr. Cuccia said.

County Executive Robert R. Neall, facing cuts in state aid, a property tax cap and a recession, urged his department heads to submit "no frills" budgets for the next fiscal year, and the Annapolis Symphony concerts were among the frills.

"It's just one of those events that's a great occasion, but the cost of it does not bear out its importance when you consider the whole year's budget," said Louise Hayman, a spokeswoman for Mr. Neall.

"Maybe in the future we'll be able to reinstitute these concerts if we can get the appropriate level of private support," she said.

Mr. Cuccia said that with the tight fiscal situation in the county, he must choose between paying referees and umpires for sporting events and paying for one-time events such as concerts and fireworks.

"You can pay for a season's worth of officials with the same money that you would use for one 45- or 50-minute concert," Mr. Cuccia said.

Patricia Edwards, executive director of the orchestra, said the concerts often were threatened with cancellation but that backers usually were found to cover the costs.

"But not this year," she said.

Ms. Edwards said the concerts provided an opportunity for people who don't often hear a symphony orchestra perform.

"We've had such wonderful response from the audience," she said. "The phones would be ringing off the hook the next day. They'd say, 'My God, I didn't know we had an orchestra of this caliber in Annapolis.' "

Ms. Edwards said it is unlikely a concert could be arranged this late, even if a private source came up with the money. However, she is hopeful for next year.

"We'll see if we can find some corporate sponsorship," she said. "We'll see where we could have it and what kind of admission we would charge."

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