The Latest Example Of An Orchestra Benefitting From The Decision To Maintain Activity Over The Pandemic

As a quick follow-up to yesterday’s post, I wanted to point out an article by Janelle Gelfand in the 11/6/21 edition of the Cincinnati Business Courier that examines the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s (CSO) recently ratified collective bargaining agreement (CBA).


  • The CSO opted against shuttering over the pandemic and instead, the stakeholders worked to find ways to present concert activity as safely as possible.
  • Over the pandemic, the CSO opted for a one-year agreement with a 10% wage reduction for musicians.
  • The new three-year agreement restores lost wages and by the end of the term, includes a cumulative eight percent increase.
  • Digital programming activities developed during the pandemic will continue under what the article reports as “improved economics for the creation and dissemination of digital media content.”
  • Services have been replaced with a weekly hour schedule.
  • The employer agrees to begin the audition process to replace nine vacant positions.

Those are just the highlights but even that small cross section of terms makes it clear this CBA is pioneering some new directions. I’m going to reach out to the stakeholders to discover more and perhaps even see if there’s interest in scheduling a podcast to really take a deep dive.

Stay tuned.

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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