It’s been an eventful week and much of the news covers everything from dark to light. So let’s see about getting caught up by starting on the east coast and work our way out west.
After months of bad blood negotiating and under the shadow of bankruptcy hearings, the Philadelphia Orchestra Association (POA) and its musicians ratified a concessionary agreement on Thursday, 10/13/2011. According to early reports, the musicians’ negotiation committee crafted an agreement with management which cuts pay by fifteen percent, reduces the number of full time musicians by ten percent, kills off the existing defined benefit pension plan, and sells out substitute musicians by paying them fifteen percent less than full members.
The 10/13/2011 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article by Peter Dobrin which includes some chest thumping from John Koen, chairman of the players’ negotiating committee, which attempts to project an image that the musicians had little choice but to accept the offer.
“It is the self-admitted failures of management and the board that have led us to this point, and we challenge them to make the changes needed to raise the funds necessary to operate and promote the orchestra with the same passion with which we create music.
Regardless of how much pointed language they use, it may be difficult for some to look at the outcome without feeling like the tough talk is diverting attention from the point of view that the musicians folded.
It’s reminiscent of a line from the major motion picture Get Shorty. If you’re a fan, you’ll know [sws_css_tooltip position=”left” colorscheme=”rosewood” width=”450″ url=”http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113161/quotes?qt=qt0233129″ trigger=”which one” fontSize=”12″]Chili Palmer: Harry, look at me. You’re trying to tell me you fucked up without sounding stupid, and that’s hard to do. [/sws_css_tooltip].
But the negotiating committee won’t have to worry very long because the impending flash from the thermonuclear explosion that will be court battle between the POA and the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and Employers Pension Fund will almost certainly serve as a more than ample distraction.
A comparative footnote to the Philly news but still worth noting is the musicians of the New York Philharmonic voted to authorize their negotiating committee to call a strike if needed. Dan Wakin reported the news in a 10/7/2011 New York Times blog post and since both sides in the negotiation remain tight lipped, details are thin.
House cleaning seems to be in style in Denver. Following the exodus of two-thirds of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra’s (CSO) board, one of the first public statements from the newly elected co-chairs was to announce that CEO Jim Palermo had been replaced, effective immediately.
It’s worth noting that the new co-chairs were previously members of the CSO the board a decade prior when then now interim CEO, Jim Copenhaver, was serving as the orchestra’s CEO. There’s no word yet on exactly what the new leadership team has in store to address the current situation other than what the 10/13/2011 edition of the Denver Post reports as a “need to adjust the way it does business to meet lower income expectations.”
Let’s end things on a bright note; or at the very least, as bright of a note as we’re going to get this week. There may have never been a time in this field when a “play & talk” arrangement looked so…well…good.
Such is the case with the San Antonio Symphony (SAS) where the board and its musicians came to a mutual agreement to start their season under the terms of now expired collective bargaining agreement. In fact, statements from a joint press release include language from representatives on both sides that might be described as downright chummy.
“I’m excited that the musicians, board and management are moving forward in unity,” said Craig Sorgi, Chair of the Orchestra Negotiating Committee. Board Chair Denny Ware said, “The Board, Orchestra and Staff are committed to pulling together to improve the quality of life of our community. We have a phenomenal orchestra that provides our community with world-class performances and extensive music education activities that are extraordinary. We hope everyone in the community steps ups and supports our efforts to make San Antonio a great place to live.”