While I wish we had brighter Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) news, that’s not in the cards. In fact, things seem to be moving toward a self-fulfilling prophecy stage.
Last week, the BSO announced it was cancelling their season opening gala that would have featured Renee Fleming.
While it’s definitely a good thing to offer patrons plenty of advance notice for cancellations, eight weeks is jumping the gun. Especially for one of the largest fundraising events of the season with a marquee level guest artist.
So, what we end up with is a group locking out musician employees due to lack of funds cancelling their fundraising gala two months in advance.
Having said that, the 7/22/19 edition of the Baltimore Sun ran an article on the cancellation that included a quote from Mary Plaine, Local 40-543 AFM Secretary-Treasurer and retired BSO librarian, indicating the decision wasn’t a surprise.
“We certainly understand management’s decision to postpone the gala,” [said Plaine]. “They keep telling the public the orchestra is coming back to work on Sept. 9. But, I don’t believe the orchestra will go back to work until they have a ratified contract. That’s the way to hold the gala in September — end the lockout.”
The same article reports that BSO CEO Peter Kjome isn’t alarmed over how the cancellation may impact finances.
Kjome said that since the gala will still fall within the symphony’s 2019-20 fiscal year, the delay won’t hurt the orchestra’s bottom line.
While I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath over it, discovering any difference between the planned and actual revenue between the original gala with Fleming and the rescheduled event, that now features Itzhak Perlman, would be fascinating.
One would hope the BSO crunched the numbers and it could be telling to see if there are any expectations for lower revenue along with the supporting rationale.
For now, it seems that even though the BSO has said they plan on cancelling the lockout at the beginning of September, they fully expect the musicians won’t return to work. That type of coincidence takes a great deal of planning.