The New York Philharmonic has postponed its trip to Havana, Cuba, citing restrictions on travel licenses for patrons backing the journey. Though the company had been granted travel licenses for the orchestra through the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, despite the United States embargo, it has not been able to secure licenses for patrons on whom the Philharmonic is depending to finance the excursion. The orchestra had planned to visit Cuba from October 30 through November 2.
The orchestra had been granted a license to travel under the category of "professional performance," explained the orchestra's spokesman, Eric Latzky, but has not been able to receive permission to include its patrons in that license. "Without the support of this group, the trip can't be financed," Latzky said. "We are asking the Treasury Department to consider how it might be possible" for the Philharmonic to bring its donors with it to Cuba, he said. "We believe that the rules provide some leeway and that the group of essential supporters could be included in this license, and that's what we're asking the Department of Treasury to consider." The orchestra had been making arrangements to perform two concerts in Havana since early July.
The orchestra has received interest from between 125 and 150 potential patrons for the trip to Havana. Latzky declined to specify how much the trip would cost, but said the number would be "in the seven figures." The Philharmonic's trip to North Korea in 2008 was funded by a combination of foundation and patron support; patrons paid $100,000 per couple to attend that trip.
The orchestra will travel to Vietnam in mid-October, as part of the company's Asian Horizons tour. That trip will not be financed by patrons.
Latzky says the orchestra will continue to work on securing licensing for patrons interested in backing a trip to Cuba, saying "we hope to reschedule at the earliest possible time."