After weeks of conspicuous silence, the local Jacksonville government has weighed in on the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra (JSO) lockout via an emergency resolution…
Jacksonville City Council Member, Glorius Johnson, introduced a
resolution during a council meeting on 12/11/2007 requesting emergency
passage of Resolution 2007-1361, which states, in part:
A RESOLUTION STRONGLY ENCOURAGING
THE JACKSONVILLE SYMPHONY ASSOCIATION AND THE JACKSONVILLE SYMPHONY
PLAYERS ASSOCIATION TO SUBMIT THEIR CONTRACT IMPASSE TO AN ARBITRATION
PROCESS TO REACH A SETTLEMENT AND TO RESUME THEIR CONCERT SCHEDULE.
WHILE NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE; REQUESTING EMERGENCY PASSAGE; PROVIDING AN
BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Jacksonville:
That the City hereby strongly urges
the Jacksonville Symphony Association and the Jacksonville Symphony
Players Association to submit their current contract impasse to an
arbitration process to reach a mutually agreeable, fair and reasonable
settlement as quickly as possible, and urges both the symphony board
and the players to end the current lockout and resume the concert
schedule for the benefit of the symphony, the musicians and the
community at large. [Download the full resolution here (pdf file).]
According to one source who attending the meeting, the resolution passed by a vote of 16-1.
Although the resolution has no authority to compel either side to a
binding arbitration process it does send a message on behalf of Jacksonville’s City Council and Mayor that the situation, and community
well-being, would be better addressed in arbitration as opposed to a
In a related vote of confidence in the city of Jacksonville and
its potential to support a thriving orchestra, Bruce Ridge, chair,
International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, released a
statement after visiting Jacksonville. It read, in part:
In my brief time in Jacksonville I
found an orchestra ready for growth in a city of seemingly endless
opportunity. For the city, my view has been confirmed. In these 20
years, the downtown has grown to become one of the most beautiful
cities of the South, with its riverwalk, shopping districts, and, yes,
the beautiful home of the Jacksonville Symphony, the Times-Union
Performing Arts Center. I have read reports that speak of a 36% growth
in the economy there in just the past five years.
And yet, seemingly in defiance of
the growth around them, the Jacksonville Symphony has not found
leadership that could harvest the opportunities surrounding the streets
of their concert hall.
No, instead, those charged to lead
the orchestra have embraced the negative rhetoric that has been
promulgated throughout the field, and now at this time of crisis they
have uttered the absurd assertions that so many of us have heard across
the table. It is impossible to believe that so many boards and so many
managers stumble across the exact same words by accident.
Those who fail to lead their
orchestras always recite the same lines of structural deficit and
greedy musicians, as if they fall back on negativity as a last refuge.
They must justify their failures in light of all the positive news that
is being reported across the country. They must justify their inability
to raise funds for an orchestra even though the nonprofit culture
industry in America accounts for $166 billion in economic activity
Across America, cities are
recognizing the positive financial impact the arts and their orchestras
can have in their communities. Inspirational leaders are finding new
donors and innovative ways for orchestras to serve their communities.
The last paragraph in Bruce’s statement ties in with one of the
components in Resolution 2007-1361, which officially acknowledges that
the JSO’s regularly scheduled concert activity has "millions of
dollars of economic impact." As such, the longer the JSO remains dark,
the more it has a negative impact on the Jacksonville economy.
According to sources involved in the negotiations, the concept
of entering into binding arbitration has been rejected by the
Jacksonville Symphony Association. However, both sides are looking for
time to meet be the end of this week and the language in Resolution 2007-1361 may be enough to convince all parties involved to enter into a process that can reach a settlement before the new year.