BREAKING NEWS: Tentative Agreement in Jacksonville

The musicians of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra released the following press release at 2:19PM CT announcing a tentative agreement which provides for Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra concerts to resume this week.  (UPDATE: The Jacksonville Symphony Association distributed a press release about approximately 90 minutes after the musician release. It is included at the end of this post)…

For Immediate Release
Media Alert  Media Spokesperson: Kevin Casseday
January 16, 2008

As Season Resumes, Symphony Looks to Pops Concerts and Radio Fundraiser

The Jacksonville Symphony’s labor dispute has reached a tentative agreement, with a little help from their “friends.”   As a result, the symphony concerts will resume on Friday with a Pops Concert featuring vocalist Kaitlyn Lusk.  Also, a 24 hour radio fundraiser this weekend is designed to help fund the new contract.  That event, billed as “AM 1460’s ‘Support the Jacksonville Symphony Musicians’ Radiothon”, will run this weekend, from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, January 19-20. For event details and updates, visit www.jsomusicians.org.

The Jacksonville Symphony musicians introduced a proposal Tuesday that involves a new orchestra support association, the Friends of the Jacksonville Symphony (FOJS) and new fundraising programs to assist the orchestra’s staff and board raise additional dollars for the organization’s support.  The Friends organization will attempt to raise money from as-yet untapped donors, foundations, grants and sponsorships to fund additional programming.

The musicians’ plan calls for additional revenue generated from several new programming initiatives.  In one, the musicians would agree to play a single-week summer season, the costs of which would be completely funded by additional revenues generated by the FOJS.  The FOJS’s efforts would also fund an additional week of educational programming for the region.

The contract commits the musicians’ services to two other programming initiatives to raise additional funding, a benefit concert later this season, as well as the radio fundraiser this weekend donated by AM 1460 radio personality Andy Johnson.

The pact ends the first serious labor action in the Jacksonville Symphony’s history.  The lockout, which has stretched to nine weeks, resulted after the musicians rejected a contract proposal that would have cut part-time musicians’ salaries and slashed pension contributions.

The new five-year agreement calls for a pay freeze of the 2006-07 pay rate during the first three years, then a 2.5 percent increase in year four, and a further 3 percent increase in year five.

Jacksonville Symphony Players’ Association chair Susan Pardue said, “We are obviously elated by the involvement and enthusiasm of the Friends of the Jacksonville Symphony, and their willingness to raise the funds to close this deal,” Pardue said.  “We regret the loss of great music in Jacksonville as a result of the lockout.  We look forward to welcoming back our loyal and supportive audience.”


Jacksonville Symphony Back on Stage

Musicians to rehearse Pops concert tomorrow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Paul Witkowski
Director of Public Relations

Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra

Jacksonville, Fla. – January 16, 2008 –  Today the Jacksonville Symphony Association (JSA) announced an agreement with the Jacksonville Symphony Players’ Association to a five-year contract that ensures the fiscal sustainability and artistic excellence of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra for years to come. The contract commences immediately and reinstates the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra performance schedule, including the Pops Series and Coffee Series concerts scheduled for January 18 and 19, 2008. Musicians will begin rehearsals at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Jacoby Symphony Hall at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts.

“We are fortunate to work with some of the finest musicians in the country, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome them back on stage,” said JSA Chairman Jim Van Vleck. “While the past few months have been difficult for everyone, our patrons in particular, we have ultimately come to an agreement that is in the best long-term interest of the symphony. We are confident that this agreement gives us the opportunity to balance the budget moving forward and continue providing our patrons with wonderful concerts and community experiences.”

The JSA has developed a five-year plan that is aggressive both in terms of fundraising and expense projections. “Now more than ever before, I strongly urge those who value the role our orchestra plays in the cultural landscape of our community to show their support, both in terms of financial donations as well as patronage,” said Van Vleck.

Helping to achieve this agreement is a group of bridge fund donors, many of whom are former JSA board members and past chairmen. “These faithful contributors are playing a key role by committing extraordinary resources above and beyond their normal level of giving over the next five years,” said Van Vleck. Also offering financial support is a new group, Friends of the Symphony, which is raising funds for additional educational programs and concerts.

The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra returns to the stage for the pops program “Judy Garland and the Golden Era” on Friday, January 18 at 11 a.m. on the Mayo Clinic Coffee Series and on Friday and Saturday, January 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Pops Series. Performances take place in Robert E. Jacoby Symphony Hall at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets and information, call the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra box office at (904) 354-5547, toll free (877) 662-6731, or log on to www.jaxsymphony.org. The Coffee concert is sponsored by the Vineyard Family Foundation.

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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