Indianapolis Cancels Season One Month Before Labor Agreement Expires

Less than a month after public discord over growing labor disputes, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) announced it is cancelling the 20-21 “indoor” season.

The press statement isn’t available on the ISO’s website, rather, it was published via several media outlets.

Of interest in the statement is the following passage:

We will also be meeting to discuss how the musicians will be supported in the interim, with a priority on providing health insurance for the musicians and their families.

The kicker here is the ISO is still in negotiations with their musicians on an extension to the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires Aug 31, 2020. It’s difficult to miss that the statement did not include anything from the musician’s spokespersons nor have the musicians issued their own statement.

Hopefully, strategic decisions weren’t influenced by thoughts of using it as negotiation leverage, but the timing of cancellations makes it difficult to dismiss out of hand.

By this time next month, we may know more.

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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