Back To The Bargaining Table In Jacksonville

According to representatives from the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra (JSO), bargaining sessions mediated by a Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service mediator with the musicians are scheduled to resume at 12:00 noon ET, Friday, 11/30/2007. At stake immediately is the fate of the First Coast Nutcracker performances, which the JSO is scheduled to provide live music as a pit orchestra. Since the lockout began, JSO Executive Director, Alan Hopper, has made public statements that the organization plans to provide recorded music for the Nutcracker performances if the lockout persists…

At the same time, if an agreement is not reached by the end of next week, the JSO musicians have announced that they will be picketing Nutcracker performances that utilize recorded music. There is no information on the JSO website as to whether or not there will be any refunds for ticket buyers who are displeased with the use of recorded music. However, according to JSO Director of Public Relations, Paul Witkowski, no new statements on the Nutcracker will be made until after the scheduled talks at the end of this week.

Furthermore, the JSO website states that the organization responsible for presenting the First Coast Nutcracker is the Jacksonville Symphony Volunteer Guild. When contacting the Guild’s representative directly with questions about Nutcracker ticket policy, Paul Witkowski responded via email stating that the organization had neglected to edit the Guild’s webpage at the JSO website to reflect that the First Coast Nutcracker is no longer part of the Guild’s fundraising efforts. However, at the time of publication, the JSO Guild webpage states that their organization is responsible for “orchestrating a variety of other innovative fundraising events throughout the year that include Picnic at the Pops, Music for Your Eyes and First Coast Nutcracker [UPDATE: 12:00 noon 11/29/07, the JSO Guild webpage has been updated to exclude mention of the First Coast Nutcracker], The Guild is proud to be singled out by the [Jacksonville Symphony Association] as its largest volunteer contributor.” 

The JSO Public Relations Office did not respond to inquires as to whether the JSO or a separate organization had assumed the responsibilities associated with presenting the First Coast Nutcracker and/or setting ticket policy. UPDATE: 12:00 noon 11/29/07, the JSO Public Relations Department confirmed that the First Coast Nutcracker Ballet, Inc. is responsible for setting ticket policies for all performances.]

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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