What Do You Think Is Going To Happen In Philly?

According to all reports, the Philadelphia Orchestra Association (POA) and their musicians have reached a tentative agreement, forged under the guidelines set forth by bankruptcy judge Eric L. Frank. Details of the agreement are unknown but inside sources say the musicians may have received a copy of the details and have had a rank and file meeting as recent as Sunday evening that meeting has reportedly been rescheduled for Monday evening.

What Do You Think Is Going To Happen In Philly?Among the hot button items which should be addressed in one fashion or another in the agreement are the musician’s pension, work rule changes, policies on hiring replacement and substitute musicians, and base annual musician wages.

At the same time, even if the agreement is ratified by musicians and the POA board, that doesn’t mean the drama is finished. If the agreement includes any provision to remove the musician pension from the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) pension fund and the POA does not intend to make good on penalties etc.

In that scenario, the AFM has already made it clear that they intend to pursue legal action against the POA to recover all or as much of what they believe they are owed as possible.

So for now, we’re in a holding pattern until both sets of stakeholders have reviewed the agreement and conducted their respective ratification votes. But we may begin to learn about details as early as this afternoon and if so, check back later for updates with that info.

In a related but interesting side story, the Wilkes-Barre times Leader reports that the Philadelphia Orchestra has announced that their opening night concert has been moved to an alternative venue due to the Kimmel Center International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) strike.

This is a fascinating turn of events as it removes the enormous “what-if” related to whether or not the POA musicians would refuse to cross IATSE picket lines. It isn’t necessarily a long term solution but worth noting at this point and time.

In the meantime, what do you think is in store for Philly’s proposed agreement?

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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