Tampa Settles While Jacksonville Remains Locked Out

On Sunday,
12/9/2007 the musicians of the Florida Orchestra (located in Tampa, FL)
ratified a three year contract after having been engaged in play-and-talk since
September. The three-year concessionary agreement averted what would have
become the second work stoppage by a professional orchestra in the state of

Although the
contract reduces the number of weeks from 34 to 30 and reduces the annual base
musician salary to $27,450, the musicians’ weekly base pay increases slightly.
Another change is a temporary reduction in the number of musicians employed by
the ensemble, which moves from 80 to 76. According to Harold Van Schaik,
orchestra committee chair and bass trombonist, four vacant violin positions
will go unfilled until the organization’s recovery plan can provide for those
positions to be filled. Harold went on to point out that five staff positions
are being eliminated but like the players’ situation, some positions are
currently vacant and won’t be filled.

key to this is the orchestra was essentially able to maintain artistic
integrity by not cutting back classics concerts,” said Van Schaik. “Our loss of
weeks will impact concert events which were funded by a variety of government
sources which have either dried up or will dry up by the end of this season.”

In Jacksonville,
the locked out Musicians of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra conducted
leafleting events at four First Coast Nutcracker performances. According to one
source in the musicians, several thousand leaflets were distributed, along with
candy canes, and the events were well received by patrons and the musician’s
numbers were enhanced by a number of community supporters as well as members
from the Machinists, Sheet Metal Workers, Steam and Pipefitters, Electricians

Calls to First
Coast Nutcracker Executive Coordinator, Deleah Martin, asking whether or not
the organization had attempted to hire the Musicians of the Jacksonville
Symphony Orchestra independently in order to ensure live music for their events
were not returned. However, thanks to a tip from Steve Hicken, author of the
blog Listen, a similar situation involving
the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra (JSO) serving as a contracted ensemble to
provide music for holiday concerts can be brought to public attention.

Apparently, the
JSO was scheduled to provide music for two concert events presented under the
auspices of the
Emma Concert Association; however, due to the lockout, the
concert association was forced to locate musicians elsewhere. As it turns out,
the organization ended up contracting the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra (TSO)
to provide music for both concert events but only after approaching the JSO
musicians to offer them work as an independent contractor.

According to a
spokesperson from the Tallahassee Symphony, their organization was not
contracted until after the Emma Concert Association concluded discussions with
the Jacksonville Symphony Association (JSA). This was confirmed by Emma Concert
Association President, Charlie Doolittle.

did contact the JSO musicians directly,” said Doolittle in a telephone
interview. “But they were not able to accept the work because the [JSA] had not
released them from the dates plus they had an additional conflict.”

Only after the
Emma Concert Association contracted the Tallahassee Symphony did the JSA
officially cancel all musician services through December 23rd. Numerous
messages to the JSA inquiring about these events were unreturned.

According to one
JSO musician, many of the JSO players have a good relationship with the EMMA
Concert Association board and since the organization attempted to contract the
musicians independently, there is no animosity between the Musicians of the
Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and Tallahassee Symphony musicians. However,
according to sources close to Tallahassee Symphony players (which is not a
union orchestra), several regularly contracted TSO musicians are refusing to
accept the work out of respect for their JSO colleagues.

The following information is presented per
request of the Musicians of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra:
The Musicians of the Jacksonville
Symphony Orchestra wish to let readers know that in addition to personal/certified
checks, individuals may now donate to their Health And Welfare fund online with
credit cards via PayPal. All donations are tax deductible. For more information
or to make a donation please visit http://www.jsomusicians.org/donations.php

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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