Wait…For…It…Cleveland Settles

We move one step closer to checking off all the groups on our list of mid to large budget orchestras with expired agreements that managed to ratify a new contract without resorting to a work stoppage thanks to a recent settlement at the Cleveland Orchestra. The three-year deal is retroactive, meaning it applies to the time passed since the previous agreement expired on August 31, 2015.

Adaptistration People 021As of now, both employer and musicians are being coy with details but early reports indicate a give-and-take agreement.

Cleveland Plain Dealer music critic Zachary Lewis authored an article on 12/12/15 that reports that although compensation figures per year aren’t available “both parties confirmed that the deal calls for annual increases in weekly compensation and retirement benefits, along with improvements in working conditions when touring.”

Concessions include healthcare premiums, relaxing recording and broadcast rules, and the musicians donating 12 services throughout the entire three-year term.

At the same time, one intriguing element worth pointing out is that the musicians released the ratification vote results. With the exception of 100 percent acceptance, this is typically kept under wraps but according to Lewis’ article, the musicians voted 72 percent aye and 28 percent nay. Although still a decidedly mandate driven ratio, the nay vote percentage is high enough to generate curiosity related to whether one or more key issues were common among that voting group.

And Then There Were Three

We’re down to the final three on our list; to that end, here’s an updated version of the fourteen mid to large budget orchestra and opera organizations with a collective bargaining agreement that expired since summer, 2015:

  1. Chicago Lyric Opera 6/30/2015
  2. Chicago Symphony 9/13/2015
  3. Cincinnati Symphony 9/13/2015
  4. Cleveland Orchestra 8/30/2015
  5. Columbus Symphony 8/31/2015
  6. Dallas Symphony 8/31/2015
  7. Florida Orchestra 8/31/2015
  8. Fort Worth Symphony 7/31/2015
  9. Grand Rapids Symphony 8/31/2015
  10. Milwaukee Symphony 8/31/2015
  11. New Jersey Symphony 8/31/2015
  12. Philadelphia Orchestra 9/13/2015
  13. San Antonio Symphony 8/31/2015
  14. Utah Symphony 8/31/2015

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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2 thoughts on “Wait…For…It…Cleveland Settles

  1. Really happy to see more and more of these agreements include relaxing recording and broadcast rules. Aside from the obvious benefits for orchestras to do in-house media, it’s a great benefit to composers. I have heard many composers tell horror stories about getting recordings of an all-too-rare orchestra performance to have in their portfolio. For composers, a recording in a portfolio is extremely valuable, and none is more valued than a large ensemble recording.

    I have heard recordings from composers that have literally had digital noise added to them so that the composer could not use it for anything other than proof that the performance happened. (I assume there was some Law-and-Order-type scenario in which the recording could serve as an alibi for someone accused of a crime. That would have been the only use for it.) I was in a student composer reading session with a major conductor who quite literally threatened the composers when handing them CDs at the end of the day. “If we catch you posting these online or sharing them publicly in any way, even excerpts, we’re never playing your music ever again.”

    I understand why these restrictions exist, but they can have unintended and harmful side effects for parties who aren’t represented in the negotiations. The recording and broadcast rules loosening may have a direct benefit for orchestra management looking to leverage new media, but it might also have an unintended helpful side effect for composers.

    • Inserting noise into recordings has been standard practice for quite some time; so long in fact, I don’t recall a time where it wasn’t the case. It’s one of throwbacks to a time when the reasons for it were entirely valid (mostly due to a time when recording revenue was a large part of the picture) but it hasn’t really kept pace with technology.

      Interestingly enough, the idea of including composers in the larger discussion is something not often considered but it should certainly happen.

      Nonetheless, it doesn’t take much abuse for everyone to loose their composure on the issue and overreact with all of these regulations. One solution that seems to avoid attention, for reasons unknown to me, is creating a single repository for reference recordings hosted and maintained by an independent party. The cost of maintaining something like this would be negligible and access would be easily managed.

      Having said all of this, I wouldn’t hold your breath for it but there’s no harm in talking about it as much as possible in order to get that ball rolling.

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