It has been an extraordinarily fast paced and destructive 72 hours for the Minnesota Orchestra Association (MOA), enough so to move the group two minutes closer to doomsday, which is marked by organizational collapse and subsequent liquidation bankruptcy.
Saturday, 9/28/13: per the MOA board’s request, the musicians conduct a ratification vote for the latest offer which would have reduced musician expenses by 25 percent of the previous expenditure level over the course of three years. the musicians reject the offer by unanimous vote and both sides openly assail one another in the press.
Sunday 9/29/13: Per the MOA’s insistence, the musicians agree to a last ditch face to face bargaining session without the mediator to present a counteroffer. The musicians bring two options, both of which are rejected out of hand by the MOA’s negotiators.
Shortly thereafter, the MOA issues a press statement announcing that it has cancelled the Carnegie Hall concerts scheduled for November. MOA music director, Osmo Vanska, issues a statement that evening through Finnish media that he will resign if both parties do not reach an agreement by midnight.
Monday 10/1/13: Osmo Vansaka tenders his resignation and the organization has lost the artistic leader responsible for serving as the catalyst for its multi year growth to critical acclaim. After reading the news, Alex Ross, arguably the most gifted and well respected music critic of our generation, wrote (emphasis added) “[Vanska] led two of the most remarkable orchestral performances I’ve ever heard: a 1996 rendition of the Sibelius Second Symphony, with the Iceland Symphony; and the famous Kullervo in 2010. That the Minnesota Orchestra Association has allowed this conductor to depart strikes me as a management failure of historic proportions.”
The artistic entity known as the Minnesota Orchestra no longer exists.
What happens next?
Although there’s always the potential for something unusual to transpire, there are ostensibly two rivers of potential the lockout can follow with the latter branching off into parallel, but mutually exclusive, directions.
Option #1: the musicians fold
Following the loss of their music director and what will certainly be a rolling series of deep cancellations for the 2013/14 season, additional musicians will depart and those remaining will lack the will and energy to continue. Fear, financial pressure, and emotional anxiety will cross a threshold where a majority of musicians will vote to ratify whatever sharply concessionary monetary and work rule terms are offered at that point in time.
Option #2: the current MOA executive leadership departs
As the concert hall remains dark, musician resolve remains unchanged, public rhetoric remains toxic, and mounting financial pressures alongside the depletion of the unrestricted endowment and sale of as many assets as possible will…
…be enough to dislodge the executive board members, the President and CEO and any closely aligned and/or burnt out board members and senior staff. The remaining board ratifies terms with the musicians who return to work under sharply reduced salary and benefit structure. The organization will then embark on the long and tedious process of rebuilding public trust, institutional stability and artistic standards.
…force the institution into liquidation. A handful of former board members along with prominent supporters will form a new nonprofit orchestral organization that will sign a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with musicians and attempt to acquire as much of the MOA’s assets as possible via the bankruptcy process. The CBA will contain sharply reduced salary and benefits compared to the most recent expired MOA agreement and if enough preparation is in place, the new orchestra will likely work out a deal with the bankruptcy trustee to acquire all remaining assets in a single purchase.
In the meantime, it shouldn’t be a surprise if the MOA begins cancelling multi-month swaths of the 2013/14 season.