Colorado Springs Philharmonic Decided To Follow The Path of Louisville, c. 2011

In 2011, the Louisville Orchestra had the dubious distinction of becoming the first professional US orchestra to attempt to cancel the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and replace those employees with replacement musicians. It didn’t end well.

The orchestra’s executive leadership took a beating in the court of public opinion and the dismissed musicians and their union colleagues across the country managed to hold firm. Along with their supporters, they managed to exert enough pressure to trigger a turnover in executive leadership and get a replacement CBA.

All of that happened on the heels of the housing bubble downturn when many orchestras were on the brink of bankruptcy.

Louisville’s situation has improved but it seems they are no longer going to be the sole member of the “we don’t need union musicians” club.

At the end of September 2020, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Board of Directors voted to cancel their union contract after declaring impasse.

I’ve reached out to both the musicians’ negotiating committee chair and the orchestra’s president and CEO for more information and given the severity of this situation, I’m giving both ample time to reply to follow-up questions.

We’ll take a much deeper dive into their feedback and more in a very detailed article on Monday.

In the meantime, here are some of the more sobering articles from the Louisville situation. If nothing else, I hope they serve as a reminder of just how ugly this type of situation can become.

Deconstructing The Louisville Letter

A Roadmap To The Land Where Angels Fear To Tread

Should I Take The Louisville Audition?

***^^***!!LOOK HERE!! We Need PERMANENT Musicians***^^*** (Louisville, KY)

Editorial Cartoon: Holiday Spirit

More From Louisville: Ball's In Your Court

Expect Ugliness To Ensue At Louisville

Leadership Turnover In Louisville

Louisville Begins Patching The Gaps

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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