States of the arts:
Today, in Detroit Symphony Orchestra (not-so-good) news: Day of a Strike Dawns for Detroit Musicians - NYTimes.com. With contract negotiations between DSO management and musicians as contentious as they are, and the musicians declining the DSO’s latest financial offer with its “extensive cuts in pay and benefits and extensive changes in how they perform their jobs,” I have a hard time seeing how a work stoppage could end very soon.
From the DSO’s Web site:
“Any increase beyond our last offer will put the DSO in a deeper hole that would ultimately drive the organization out of business. There is nobody who winds in that situation.”
Of note, on the fiscal housekeeping side of things: the DSO, following years of living beyond its means, has an accumulated deficit of $9+ million (I think I’m understanding various figures correctly), and, per Dan Wakin in The New York Times, has been “raiding its endowment to pay for operations.”
Evidently money isn’t the only issue in the negotiations; the historical orchestra model in which musicians spend the majority of their “work” time rehearsing and performing series of classical and pops concerts is at risk of evolving greatly. The DSO’s proposed contract offer includes a reduced season (fewer weeks; reduced pay), plus musicians’ increased involvement in community and education programs (which could include teaching or performing chamber concerts). Future operations of orchestras – not only in Detroit, but elsewhere – may include a similarly pronounced emphasis on musicians’ participation in community and education concerts/programs which could, in fact, make orchestras more relevant to and valued by the communities they serve. Detroit’s proposed work-model, regardless of whether it’s ratified, could serve as a precedent for other orchestras.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, good news announced in Houston: Houston Symphony Musicians Ratify New Contract - chron.com