Back To Deadlines In Detroit

According to a press release from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) musicians dated Monday, 3/28/2011 the DSO has issued a deadline of Friday, April 1, 2011 to reach a settlement or the 2011 summer season will be no more. However, there are mixed messages coming from sources on both sides regarding the details of progress on key issues related to the nearly six month long strike…

An Associated Press article appearing in the Chicago Tribune from 3/28/2011 reports that the DSO has not commented on the legitimacy of the deadline yet the board leadership believes a deal is close at hand.

An orchestra spokeswoman would not comment on whether a deadline has been imposed.

Board chair Stanley Frankel says in a statement that the board is “convinced that a settlement is within reach” and that negotiators have been meeting by phone and e-mail.

Meanwhile, an article by Mark Stryker in the Detroit Free Press from the same day indicates that management believes progress is being made while the musicians claim otherwise.

The musicians claimed management set an April 1 deadline for a deal or the summer season would be lost and the fall season would be jeopardized. They also said management was unwilling to meet at the bargaining table before the Friday deadline…In a statement, DSO board chair Stanley Frankel responded that the negotiating teams and attorneys from both sides and community mediators have in fact been meeting via phone and email every day for weeks.

Given the history of ultimatums and reversals by both sides throughout the course of the dispute, it would be difficult to blame anyone for suspecting that there may be more than a few cries of “wolf!” going on in public statements.

Although none of this is a joke, it is difficult to miss the fact that the alleged deadline is set for April Fool’s Day.

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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0 thoughts on “Back To Deadlines In Detroit”

  1. This really needs to get settled. Local businesses are losing money, not to mention the musicians who have been striking for…5 months ? now! Everyone I know has an opinion, mostly sympathetic toward the musicians. Jay Jolley (local Detroit rock musician) even recorded a video to “raise” awareness about the whole thing, featuring DSO musicians.

    It will be a relief for everyone to have this resolved

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