Not Feeling Very Social In Jacksonville

As the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra (JSO) lockout drags on, orchestra supporters continue to make their voices heard. On 11/26/2007, Marci Gurnow, a clarinetist in the JSO, posted information at JSO Lockdown (a social networking group at announcing scheduled picketing activities at upcoming First Coast Nutcracker performances. In an effort to help build stronger connections with supporters and create added awareness, the message invites group members to participate by making their own picket signs and taking part in the picketing activity. Furthermore, unless an agreement is reached before next week’s deadlines, the musicians are preparing to let ticket buyers know that, as a result of the lockout, they will not be attending performances with live music, as was promised in the performance’s promotional material…

This is the same strategy successfully implemented by the musicians in the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater when they endured a work stoppage and there is every indication that the JSO musicians and their supporters will plan to make the use of recorded music during Nutcracker performances a central point in upcoming efforts.

According to JSO Executive Director, Alan Hopper, the JSO is not producing the Nutcracker performances, rather, they are contracted to supply the music. In a series of email communications from before the Thanksgiving holiday, Hopper wrote that they would go ahead with using recorded music if an agreement with the musicians is not reached in time.

“There is nothing in our arrangements that would prohibit the First Coast Nutcracker from continuing their performance without the use of the orchestra,” wrote Hopper.

When asked if Alan Hopper or JSO Board Chair Jim Van Vleck have been following the discussions or have attempted to communicate directly with members of social networking groups such as JSO Lockdown, a JSO spokesperson said “[Alan Hopper]…does not follow the social networking websites.”

Currently, both sides are working toward scheduling additional meetings beginning as early as Thursday, 11/30/2007. In the meantime, the JSO musicians are planning picketing activities for First Coast Nutcracker performances scheduled for December 7th, 8th (both shows) and 9th.

Learn more about the JSO lockout online:
JSO Lockdown webpage
JSO Association website
JSO Musicians’ website

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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