Although the orchestras Omaha and San Antonio are 830 miles apart amidst very different community structures, their prospects share a great deal in common. In particular, both communities are experiencing a sort of cultural renaissance, one orchestra (Omaha) recently moved into a new primary venue while the other (San Antonio) has a new venue on the drawing table, and both organizations are engaged in collective bargaining negotiations…
In Omaha’s case, a recent article in the Omaha World- Herald by Ashley Hassebroek does an excellent job at outlining the area’s cultural growth and a similar article by San Antonio News-Express critic Mike Greenberg details San Antonio’s recent and planned cultural growth.
It is worth considering just how important each orchestra’s current collective bargaining negotiations will influence the role each organization assumes during their respective cultural growth cycles. On one extreme, either organization may fail to become an integral component of their respective growth cycle and be forced into a position of playing perpetual catch-up. On the other extreme, either organization may move into a leadership position which their greater cultural community may use as a benchmark for measuring community-wide success.
In the end, perhaps both of these negotiations are a sort of figurative canary in the mine for the emerging class of mid-budget size American orchestra. Furthermore, how the musicians and management/board at each institution conduct themselves and the positions they espouse during these negotiations will not only influence their collective bargaining agreements, it will set the tone for how this business establishes benchmarks for the next decade.