The 12/3/2010 edition of the Detroit Free Press published an article by Mark Stryker that reports Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) music director, Leonard Slatkin, referenced the two month old strike in a piece he wrote for his website, leonardslatin.com. Slatkin starts out by writing “Weather forecast. Stormy with little chance of sun. Temperatures remain chilly throughout the month. Expect a break in the clouds if the pressure lets up.”…
Slatkin goes on to write that he has spent most of the time since the strike commenced talking to DSO board members.
“The strike dragged into its second month and I continued to keep quiet. But this did not mean that I did nothing. Very few days went by while I was in Detroit, when I did not speak with board members, urging them to help find a way out of this. Most said they missed the orchestra but needed to hold firm. The indication was that when a settlement was reached, purse strings might open once again.
And that is the crux of the issue. The players want a guarantee and the board cannot give it. The good news is that General Motors showed a two billion dollar surplus this past quarter, but that is only for 3 months. It is sustained growth, over a year or more, which will get the economics back in play for the orchestra.
I have tried very hard, and feel that the success will come, but not until the orchestra is back on stage. At that time, I will be entrusted with the most difficult job a music director must confront: healing the wound.”
Slatkin’s narrative indicates that most of the DSO board seems to be firmly entrenched and, for now, unwilling to consider options that don’t lock the organization into long term strategic commitments.
In a way, it’s an ironic perspective.
Boards correctly perceive collective bargaining agreements as long term commitments. The DSO board is pushing back against a long term commitment they don’t feel can be fulfilled yet the solution currently proposed is another long term solution that locks the organization into what the musicians define as an equally damaging course of action.
It’s no mistake that Slatkin points out General Motors’ recent gains and that if this growth continues (presumably throughout the entire automobile industry) that the DSO and the entire community will be in a better place to forecast their future.
As such, I want to take a moment to reiterate what I’ve been saying for some time now regarding the DSO situation: both sides would be wise to consider options that focus on managing debt for a few more seasons until the local economy stabilizes; this way, they’ll be in a better place to make any long term decisions.
What does the DSO have to lose? They go deeper into debt and might consider bankruptcy? So what, the entrenched positions Slatkin identifies are nothing more than a first class ticket for the insolvency express anyway. Hopefully, the DSO board and musicians will figure this out sooner than later.