Contributing To A Solution In St. Louis

Even though the negotiation impasse between the managers and musicians of the St. Louis Symphony has cancelled concerts since the beginning of January, supporters can still make a difference in helping the situation from deteriorating any further.

Donating to maintain healthy musicians
For the musicians, the most urgent need is to be able to maintain their health insurance payments.  Although the musicians receive benefits from the American Federation of Musicians strike/lockout fund, those don’t last beyond 16 weeks and are only a small portion of what they earned playing.

As members of the AFM strike/lockout fund SLSO musicians receive a weekly payment of:

  • $150 a week starting the second week of the dispute
  • $300 a week starting on week five
  • $450 a week staring the ninth week of the dispute and continuing to the sixteenth week of the dispute

In all but a few cases, musicians involved in a strike or a lockout do not have their health insurance cancelled.  However, the SLSO management decided to cancel the SLSO musician’s insurance back in the beginning of January.

As a result, the musicians are raising money on their own to maintain their health insurance premiums.  The musicians have scheduled several performances so far where they collect donations from patrons in lieu of charging admission. 

However, you can make a donation at any time by sending contributions to the SLSO musicians’ relief fund. According to the musician’s website you can make your check out to “SLSMA ICSOM Relief Fund” and send it to:

St. Louis Symphony Musicians
418 Clark Avenue
Kirkwood, MO 63122

Donating to maintain a healthy organization
According to representatives of the SLSO management, the development office is still working hard to raise money in the community and yes, patrons and supporters can still make donations.

When asked whether or not a patron could make a donation which would be applied directly toward musician salaries, the SLSO management did not return a response.

You can continue to make general donations to the orchestra organization by contacting the SLSO development department at:

Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
718 North Grand Boulevard
St. Louis, Mo 63103
Office phone: 314-533-2500
Toll free: 800-232-1880

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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