Indianapolis Symphony Reaches Short Term Deal

When we last examined the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) back in July 2020, things were looking grim; the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was expiring in a few months and there was a protracted dispute over back pay and health care benefits.

Since then, the organization announced cancelling the entire 20/21 season and fast forward a few weeks and we have a new one-year agreement that covers the length of the shutdown.

According to an ISO press statement, the one-year deal provides musicians with health care benefits and a $500/week payment that won’t begin until January, 2021. That wage works out to a 71.5 percent cut from the previous $1,750/wk salary the musicians would otherwise receive over the course of 42 weeks (or $73,500/yr).

There are very few details available past that other than both employer and musicians intend to continue bargaining for a longer term contract once this placeholder expires in Aug, 2021.

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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