Monday’s post on unionism garnered some good reader comments. One of them was Galen H. Brown, a composer, contributing editor to Sequenza21, and a member of the New York Philharmonic development department. The topic motivated Galen to not only submit a comment but he authored an article on the topic at his Sequenza21 column…
Being the hotbed for all things related to contemporary music that it is, the largely composer oriented readership at Sequenza21 began responding to the unionization issue in a series of comments that slowly evolved into a few small sub-discussions. Among those are issues related to accessibility, the nature of professional musicianship, and professional representation.
Galen’s article makes some very good points, but there’s one issue that left me scratching my head. In particular, there was some conjecture over whether or not unionization has kept the number of professional orchestras at a lower level than would be the case otherwise. Personally, I think unionization has kept the number of professional orchestras as high as possible.
As I wrote in Monday’s article, once musicians begin to see themselves as stakeholders and not mere employees becoming involved in the strategic decision making process is inherent. As such, compared to board members and managers, musicians have a higher level of vested interest. Overall, they are less adverse to risk taking and growth all of which allows an organization to reach its full potential.
As such, if the level of artistic ability entering the field continues to rise, those players will flood the lower budget professional ensembles and the quasi-professional ensembles. So long as those musicians stay true to their desire to make a vocation from playing their instrument, they will eventually come to the realization that collective action is their best option for influencing the development of an infrastructure capable of supporting their decision at an economic level.