A Tentative Deal In Grand Rapids

Adaptistration People 006It looks like we’re one step closer to wrapping up the list of outstanding mid to large budget orchestras with expired agreements that have managed to ratify a new contract without resorting to a work stoppage. The Grand Rapids Symphony (GRS) reportedly reached a tentative five-year agreement after more than seven months of play and talk.

The new agreement must be ratified by the GRS board and the musicians before terms are released, but we’ll circle back to those items once they’ve been made available.

The tentative agreement comes on the heels of an article by Josh Veal in the 3/20/2016 edition of MiBiz.com that examines the protracted negotiation. Although GRS executive director, Peter Kjome, did not offer any comments for that report, one of the musician spokespersons, GRS violinist and negotiation committee co-chair Diane McElfish Helle, offered insight on how stakeholders have managed to avoid taking the same path as some of the more vitriolic labor disputes this season.

“We’re not throwing rocks back and forth here. We’re taking our time because we all want to be responsible,” [McElfish Helle] said. “I do think the board has people of goodwill.”

And Then There Was One

We’re down to the final group on our list; and as a refresher, here is 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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