The Pandemic’s Impact On Us Vs. Them Syndrome

There’s a fascinating article in the 10/26/21 edition of the Pittsburgh-Gazette by Jeremy Reynolds that examines the impact vaccination mandates are having on Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) musicians. Like many nonprofit performing arts organizations, the PSO adopted vaccination requirements for all artist employees and Reynolds’ article dives into some of the resulting conflict among some musicians refusing to be vaccinated. The article does an excellent job at making clear the requirement …

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Are You Inadvertently Cultivating An Us Against Them Environment?

If you’re ever interested in sparking a conversation among orchestra managers, musicians, or board members, ask them what they think about the us against them mentality. If you do, make sure to order a drink and sit back because it will probably be a long conversation. In a nutshell, us against them usually rears its ugly head during labor disputes but unlike a severe weather event that comes and goes, it’s …

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Gelb’s Puzzling Threshold For “Best Relationships”

The Associated Press published an article on 1/28/2021 by Ronald Blum that examines The Metropolitan Opera’s finances. Nutshell: they saw the same drop in earned income other groups are experiencing but offset that in part by increased unearned income. In and of itself, there’s nothing remarkable there but what should catch your eye is the spin Met general manager Peter Gelb put on that story. “The good news is that we’ve managed …

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Growing Discord In Indianapolis

At the end of June, we examined growing labor tensions at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO) over what the musicians described as unnecessarily aggressive negotiations over back pay, benefits, and media agreement terms. Since then, I managed to have a conversation with the ISO’s CEO James Johnson. Media Agreement According to a press statement from the musicians, the employer was pushing for changes to the existing media agreement in order to make good …

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Why The “If You Aren’t Playing, We Aren’t Paying” Rationale Just Doesn’t Work

As coronavirus shutdowns continue, we’re seeing some genuinely positive interaction between employers and musician employees working toward mutually agreeable solutions to the sensitive issue of payroll. Outside of those scenarios, I’m seeing one of the most derogatory old-school stereotypes emerge as justification for cancelling musician pay entirely: musicians only work 20 hours per week. This twisted notion assumes that musicians are only paid for the time they are on stage rehearsing …

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