Choir boys for Washington Cathedral receive partial tuition scholarships to St. Albans school, but are not paid for performances at the cathedral, as was reported incorrectly in yesterday's Washington Post.
The Washington Cathedral, which is being built to last a thousand years, faces drastic cuts in personnel, construction and program budgets to save it from threatened bankruptey within the next 18 months.
A special ad hoc committee of business and church leaders will recommend sharp economies to the cathedral's regular chapter (board of trustees) meeting today to rescue the institution from a debt of more than $11 million.
Savings - some proposed, some already in effect - range from turning off the lights in the nave except during services to reducing the size of the choirs and dismissing a full-time clergyman.
The cathedral is "not bankrupt." said Robert Robinson, New York insurance executive who heads the Ad Hoc Committee on Cathedral Finances named last month by Episcopal Bishop William F. Creighton, "but it's close to it."
"It's a year-and-a-half before the notes come due and the banks aren't pressing us." he continued.
Nevertheless, he said, "If it (the cathedral) were in the commercial world, it would be a Chapter 11." Under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy laws, a financially troubled insitution continues to exist but it must be reorganized.
Recommendaitons scheduled to come before the cathedral chapter today include a scaling down of the construction program, a 25 per cent cut in the Cathedral's 75 full-time paid staff members, and a host of other economies wherever they can be made.
Cuts in personnel - salaries make up 65 per cent of Cathedral's $15 million annual operation budget - run from top to bottom. Some cuts have already been made. The cathedral's polished marble floors are noticeably gritty, the result of cuts in the cleaning staff.
Only 20 boys, instead of the 26 who sang for Queen Elizabeth last summer, comprise the boys' choir now. The youngsters, in addition to their partical scholarships at St. Albans School, are paid $25 for each of the three evensong services during the week and the holy communion service Sunday morning.
The men's choir has been reduced from 24 to 15 paid singers, although five have elected to continued as volunteers.
When the cathedral's nationally known organist and choirmaster of 38 years, Dr. Paul Callaway, retires next September, he will not be replaced.
Perhaps most painful of all the personnel cuts, the chapter today will be asked to approve the dismissal of Canon Jeffery Cave, one of the cathedral's four full-time clerics.
Week-day visiting hours for the hundreds of tourists who flock there have reduced 90 minutes, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day.
Lights have been switched off in the majestic nave, to be turned on only for services. "It makes the cathedral more gloomy," observed business manager Richard Fuller. "That distresses the dean (Francis Sayre) and it distresses me." But it will save $5,000 a year.
Heating has been cut back as much as they dare, said Fuller, who notes with quiet pride that "we're the only cathedral in the world with radiant heat in the floor."
The temperature in the cathedral has to be kept fairly constant because of the size of the place. "It's 10 stories high and a-fifth-of-a-mile long," said Fuller. "If we turned the heat down, we'd have to turn it up again on Thursday to warm it up for Sunday services," he explained.
The Washington Cathedral was chartered by Congress in 1893, but has no ties with, and receives no money from, the federal government. Construction began on the cathedral in 1907 and is expected to be completed by 1899, according to Fuller.
Although it is an institution of the Episcopal Church, it receives no funds from church sources. On the contrary, like all diocesan churches, it contributed to the budget of the Washington Episcopal Diocese last year. The cathedral's share was $15,000.
But the cathedral is not a parish church. It has no members. Most of the people who turn up for Sunday services are tourists, the staff guesses. "We have no way of knowing for sure." Dean Sayre explained, "but about two-thirds of them stay for the tour after the service."
Fuller blames some of the cathedral's fund-raising problems on the lack of a "built-in constituency." He said. "A school or a college has it alumni boosters; a parish church has its members; even the symphony has a following of people who love music. But we don't have a constituency."
In addition, Dean Sayre said, the catherdral suffer from the "myths" that Episcopalians are "rolling in wealth" and that because the institution is sometimes referred to - erroneously - as the "National" cathedral, it receives government subsidies. It does not.
The cathedral's debts mushroomed last year - from $7 million to $11 million, Robinson said - in part because of the push to complete the nave and the rose windows in the west wall for the Bicentennial and other celebrations.
"In the last two years, there was a sense of euphoria at the cathedral, as the construction got going and the Bicentennial came closer and the queen (Elizabeth) was coming." Robinson said.
Dean Sayre acknowledged that the speedup in construction was "a calculated risk," but added, "I'm glad we did it; it was the right thing to do."
Now, however, the cathedral is stuck with "a little bit more than $700,000" in interest payments, according to Robinson. "That's just wasted money."
The chapter today will be asked to cut the construction budget for next year to $2.3 million - "That's gifts we know are coming and we know the date they will arrive," the finance chairman said.
"I think it was (poet Robert) Browning that told us that man's reach should exceed his grasp - but not that much," he said of the deficit.