This was my first essay and I would love some feedback! The prompt was:
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.”
My essay is as follows:
The memo from the budget planner for the city of Grandview relies on assumptions that the argument depends on. Firstly, the memo states that private contributions to the symphony have tripled, but it does not state where the starting point lies. Similarly, the memo states that the outdoor summer concert series has reached record highs, but again there is no baseline for this. The memo also does not define what it means for the symphony to be self-sustaining, Lastly, there is an assumption that the symphony will now be self-sustaining for years to come, but can this really be ensured? The argument in the memo depends on these assumptions, and the city can run into problems if these assumptions prove unwarranted.
Firstly, the memo states that in the past two years, since an internationally known conductor was hired for the symphony, private contributions to the symphony have tripled. The way this is worded assists the reader in assuming that the symphony is earning a large revenue, but this may not be the case. For example, let’s say that before the internationally known conductor was hired, the symphony was receiving $10 per month in private contributions. If this was tripled, then the symphony would be receiving $30 per month, which is not significant funding. Since the memo does not specify how much money the symphony used to earn from private contributions, readers cannot assume that the symphony is now self-sustaining. Saying that the private contributions “tripled” has little merit since readers do not actually know how much the symphony is receiving, or if it is enough to be self-sustaining. On a similar note, the memo states that the symphony’s outdoor summer concert series has reached record highs in terms of attendance. Readers will assume that this means the concert attendance is high. Again, since there is no baseline provided for their summer concert series attendance, that assumption cannot be made. For example, if the summer concert series had 100 guests three years ago, and had 105 guests last year, that would still technically be considered a record high even though the attendance did not significantly change. The wording of the memo inclines readers to assume there was a large increase in private contributions and summer concert attendance, but no actual quantitative data is provided, so that assumption cannot be made.
The memo does not clearly define what it means for the symphony to be self-sustaining. It says that “the city of Grandview agreed to provide the symphony with annual funding until the symphony became self-sustaining” but there are not clear guidelines as to what self-sustaining actually means in this case. Does it mean that the symphony has just enough funding to stay open? Or does it mean that it has the capacity to do large scale events? The memo makes an assumption that the symphony will be well off without funding from the city, but this may not be true once the funding is eliminated. Even if this assumption is true, there is another assumption that is made, which is that the symphony will remain self-sustaining for years to come. Even if the assumption are justified that the internationally known conductor has led to large sums of private contributions and high attendance to the summer concert series, what will happen if this conductor leaves the symphony and the private funding and high attendance diminishes? The memo assumes that this success will remain for at least the near future, and if this assumption proves unwarranted then the symphony might be left with no funding.
In conclusion, the memo includes several assumptions that the argument depends on. Firstly, there is no quantitative data provided, so readers will naturally assume the private contributions and concert attendance numbers are high enough to become self-sustaining, but there is no evidence of that in the text. In addition, there is no clear definition of what it means for the symphony to be self sustaining. Even though the city of Grandview may see the symphony as able to self-sustain, this may not be the case. Lastly, there is an assumption that the internationally known conductor will remain at the symphony for years to come. But, if the conductor leaves, the contributions may decrease and the symphony will no longer be self-sustaining. If these assumptions prove unwarranted, then the symphony may experience future financial struggles after being eliminated from the city’s funding.