An article in the 07/14/06 edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer by R. M. Campbell details some of the results from the recent artistic survey conducted by the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Organization (SSOPO) artistic advisory committee. According to a previous public statement from the musicians, the survey results were not intended to be released to the public or press, however, the Post-Intelligencer published specific quotes from individual survey results…
In order to help clarify the situation I contacted Tim Hale, SSO violist and incoming chair of the SSOPO players’ committee. According to Tim, only members of the artistic advisory committee and a few members of the player’s committee had access to the survey results and they were only delivered to the SSO board.
A call placed to the SSO administration to confirm if the Post-Intelligencer was given copies of or access to the survey results from someone within the administration or board has been received and they are currently investigating the issue. Once they have confirmed their internal results, they plan to release a statement (see update below).
In an earlier article from the Post-Intelligencer, the SSO board chair indicated that the board might institute disciplinary actions against the musicians if they carried through with conducting an artistic survey. When asked whether or not the board has carried through with that warning, Tim Hale said,
“We are working internally to resolve these individual issues and we are meeting with the employer until they are resolved. I’d rather not comment on any specifics issues at this time as they are currently unresolved but we are hopeful to work at improving communication with the board.”
Additionally, according to a SSO spokesperson, whether or not the SSO administration and board intend to take any disciplinary action against individual musicians or the musicians as a whole is in the process of being investigated (see update below).
Another point made in the Post-Intelligencer article was that some SSO musicians who are Schwarz supporters claim they never received copies of the artistic survey. When asked whether or not any musicians were left out of the survey process, Tim Hale said he contacted the artistic advisory committee to investigate their methods.
“Every effort was made by the artistic committee to best guarantee that every regular musician received a copy of the survey. This included hand delivery to players at thier home address as well as utilizing professional courier services. However, we did have players who were out of the country when the survey was distributed and some regular musicians elected not to return the survey.”
Whether or not players claiming to be excluded from the survey process will be able to subsequently submit responses is an issue which is being investigated. Obviously, the issue is not yet resolved but the SSOPO musicians continue to assert that they hope the situation will be addressed to everyone’s satisfaction internally.
The center of the issue doesn’t necessarily focus on any given individual within the organization as much as the musician’s stated desire to have sincere influence on artistic issues. Whether or not these events will resolve the matter to everyone’s satisfaction will likely play out in the coming weeks.
UPDATE: According to a spokesperson for the SSO, the board is working with the musicians directly on the matter of the orchestra survey. When asked about the above issues Seattle Symphony Acting Executive Director Mary Ann Champion said,
“Seattle Symphony is working hard to resolve past differences and to create an even stronger organization. We look forward to focusing our collective energies in continuing to bring great music to our community.”