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Detroit Symphony Orchestra - financial problems

I'm not sure what you intended by introducing an op-ed by some doctrinaire communist hack who's entire solution is to demonize voluntary wealthy contributors into paying more. what do you think of it?


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
just a different, though widely different perspective.

It did confirm all the problems that the area has faced including the DSO (declining ticket sales and private contributions), 50% (or more) unemployment in detroit and yet states the musicians should not be affected by any of it in any way seems lost.

I'm curious what the actual ticket sale revenue is compared to the donated amount too.

In one musician website I read a statement where the musician(s) thought that the management perspective must have been that their organization was largely supported by charity to impose all these changes to the group.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
You could also say that, if the op-ed writer does reflect the opinion of the majority of the musicians (which I doubt), then you can see that there's an extremely large gap between them and the DSO board.
Cool! good commentary.

I'm curious what the actual ticket sale revenue is compared to the donated amount too.

In one musician website I read a statement where the musician(s) thought that the management perspective must have been that their organization was largely supported by charity to impose all these changes to the group.
I'll try to dig it up, but it seems that tickets account for about only a third of the DSO's income. I can't imagine things like Royalties, weddings, and whatever the heck else they do brings their earned portion of their revenue to more than half of total. So yes, then, about half the organization is supported by charity. when so many rich donors hang around the orchestra, how can this be a surprise? If you're correct in the musician's perspective, then the musicians are indeed vain, dogmatic, and stupid like I've said.
SteveSklar said :
It did confirm all the problems that the area has faced including the DSO (declining ticket sales and private contributions), 50% (or more) unemployment in detroit and yet states the musicians should not be affected by any of it in any way seems lost.
Terry pointed out the audience factor but the hack neglected to. Of course it may be that demand realities would be immaterial to the Communist point of view anyways....


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Lefties of the world untie?


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
the DSO lost the entire percussion section. Two took positions at the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The other, I'm unsure as it does not say, but moved to Minnesota. And they had an open position for the asst. tympani for a couple years.



Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
from the newspaper
Last Updated: February 28. 2011 1:00AM
DSO musicians say percussionists gone

Lawrence B. Johnson / Special to The Detroit News

The entire percussion section of the striking Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians has taken new jobs.

Under the headline "DSO's percussion section says 'Good-bye,'" the orchestra's musicians reported on their website over the weekend that in recent weeks principal percussionist Jacob Nissly has taken the principal position with the Cleveland Orchestra, principal timpanist Brian Jones has accepted the principal post with the Dallas Symphony and assistant principal percussionist Ian Ding has moved to Minneapolis, though not to join the Minnesota Orchestra.

A fourth member of the percussion battery, assistant principal timpanist and percussionist Dan Bauch, resigned from the DSO to join the Boston Symphony. His job had been left vacant.

"This is a painful thing to talk about," said musicians' spokesman Haden McKay. "But if the board has no commitment to this orchestra, people have to know the result is going to be that the fine players who have come to the DSO over many decades are going to leave."

McKay said "many other" DSO musicians are actively auditioning for other jobs. Asked if that might mean a dozen players, he said: "That estimate would be very low."

"While we appreciate that some may choose new paths, we send our best wishes with every colleague and wish them well on their journey knowing that we may soon meet again," DSO spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt wrote in a statement.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110228...sicians-say-percussionists-gone#ixzz1FFdCAkjS
"the board has no committment to the orchestra"
I'm sure that likely to get them steamed as they all think of the milllions of dollars that they donated to their favorite musical charity in the past.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
I'm happy that a number of them have found new positions.
I agree. They are lucky that there were openings. I'd be surprised if there are enough openings out there to absorb most of the players.

But now it brings up an interesting question. With the percussionists gone how are they going to do their support concerts if they strive to have the entire orchestra play at concerts.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
some opposing letters to the editor

Last Updated: February 28. 2011 1:00AM
Letters: Can DSO talks be saved?

Replace DSO management
If someone came to you and said, "I want to promote and support the artistic excellence of your institution; to promote community involvement and pride in your institution; to evaluate, question, advise and assist, to the extent appropriate, management of your institution; to enhance and ensure that a strong audience and financial base exists to support the artistic excellence of your institution," how would you respond?
The above is the mission of Save Our Symphony, striving to bring together Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and the musicians.

To the DSO board of directors: A member of the community is writing this letter imploring you to look at management.
It's time for a change, a change in management.
Kimberly Rize, Livonia

Musicians' misjudgment
Re: The News' Feb 21 editorial, "DSO discord ignores reality": Now that DSO members have rejected management's final offer, hopefully additional attention can be focused on more salient issues. The Detroit Public Schools are in shambles. Detroit neighborhoods remain unsafe. Tax revenues have tumbled.
Although the symphony's musicians believed they were indispensable, I am confident that Detroit will survive just fine without the DSO.
Raymond Dubin, Farmington Hills

Misguided management
The News' Feb. 2 editorial on the DSO strike, "The numbers don't work," does not address the real reason the strike is not resolved and that people such as the members of Save Our Symphony are not currently contributing to the DSO. The "numbers" are not the real reason. Yes, the finances are in critical condition, but not beyond salvage. The real reason is a small handful of misguided individuals on the executive board and in management are acting as the arbiters of what the DSO should be.
Douglas Scott, Grosse Ile

Generous salary
If striking DSO musicians who rejected a salary offer of $80,000 want to show solidarity with the well-compensated Wisconsin public employees protesting budget cuts, perhaps they should travel to Madison for a benefit concert of classical music. I hear whine goes well with cheese.
Steve Sutton, Farmington Hills

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110228...etters--Can-DSO-talks-be-saved?#ixzz1FGmfHNPH
#1) Given that DSO Management is hardly at odds with the board of directors about this whole affair, replacing management would be like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

#2) is basically the thoughts of about 90% of Detriot.

#3) But the finances are Critical. This is fairly well indicated by an endowment that fell from 55 million to what, less than 20 million? in only about three years. And huh? you think that Management shouldn't be he deciders? are you some sort of bum? How is this not all about simple balance sheet math? It's facinating how these mental winos try to make this about something other than revanue vs expenses.

#4) Would it be too derivative to bring up a "smallest violin" platitude?


Old King Log
Staff member
We have here a fossilized "industry" that is struggling to survive in a much changed world. The music is obsolescent (as far as the paying audiences out there are concerned), the expense to produce it live astronomic, and the amount of money needed to retain all of the skilled folks in one place prohibitive.

I love art music (as it was before about 1930 or so), and enjoy listening to it. But it has been eons since I went to see it live. I can get the same thing, in flawless form, and without having to listen to two piano concertos in order to get it, for less than half price. Do the math.

There are precious few interested in the kind of music that the DSO is/was producing in the first place, much less interested enough to shell out for live concerts. Without a huge endowment to keep them afloat, that's all she wrote.

And, I too would question how they burned through so much money in such a short time. Perhaps my buddy Lenny had something to do with it. If I were them, I'd check his bank account statements - he and his mama may have dipped their graspy hands into the till when nobody was looking.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
I do believe the endowment used to be around the 100 million mark until recent years, from some past articles that I have read.

But the area has imploded due to manufacturing and other business pullouts.

Since about 2004 a mantra from many tier 1 companies (auto makers and such) have been that if you don't have a plant in China then you are not a serious contender. Initial cost cutting (offshore outsourcing) basically destroyed the Tool & Die segment (hundreds if not thousands of small shops), and other business segments around Detroit as companies set up shop elsewhere. This also affected the main manufacturing plants too. And keep in mind each of these modest to large plants feed an economy around the plant such as restuarants, small shopping strip malls, etc. Many of those shuttered too.

Many of the medium sized business suppliers had severe financial strains, and large unprofitable streaks, assuming they survived which many didn't. If they did, they shuttered many jobs, slashed salaries and benefits, and shifted at least some manufacturing outside the country (China, Mexico, south america). Just look up American Axle on the web it was indicative of businesses that survived.

I used to work in automotive. We HAD to set up manufacturing in China to continue to supply to the BIG 3 autos. This factory basically shutdown the australian factories and put heavy pressure on the US and mexico & S.A. factories. The UK factory was also shuttered. Also many internal jobs of CAD were shifted to lower cost India. And then they slashed basically all mid mgt and others. I know people that have been out of work for 3+ years now. I think we paid chinese workers around $0.25 cents per hour including benefits back in 2006. I think Mexico was about $8.00 and US above $17.00 per hour.

In chatting with CEO's and other executive people, largely based on the Michigan economy, I have found that many executive level people have left Michigan for other locations such as Atlanta, Dallas, etc. Think of how this has eroded the donation/charity base of the DSO. I would not be surprised if their large donation givers list was more than cut in half from 2006-2008, and then probably again from 2008-2010. Thus the quick erosion of their endowment.

Add to this they no longer play at Meadowbrook - a very nice location for the suburban elite to go to, versus Detroit. The Detroit Orchestra hall is great and such (I assume, I've never been there but next door and across the street & have seen pictures) but Meadowbrook is so much more accessible (been there), and open and in a safe area with virtually unlimted parking.

Thus the DSO is on the trail end of the entire business implosion in the area simply because they had a very large endowment that they could feed off of. Now with that dwindling they are in the same situation as hundreds of businesses large and small were just a few years ago.

The DSO actually has to pay a level in which they can raise the endowment above $54 million again, which I believe is stipulated in the contract with the banks. So their current offers were way above generous and above actual revenue/donations. They even said they would have to have a very aggressive donation drive to break even. Add to that they have to bring up the endowment and they were basically just kicking the can down the dead end road.
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Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
in 2007 this is what was ratified

Detroit Ratifies 3-Year Agreement

On September 14, 2007, the musicians of the Detroit Symphony ratified a three-year agreement that is retroactive to September 3, 2007 and continues through August 29, 2010. The difficult economic situation in both Detroit and Michigan was exacerbated by management’s stated goal of a “permanent structural change.” Management’s proposals included freezing the pension plan, reducing the orchestra’s complement, cutting weeks from the season, making significant changes to musician contributions for health insurance, and instituting a long-term wage freeze. By contrast, the musicians’ goal was to remain as one of the top 10 American orchestras. What followed was a difficult and hostile negotiating process that actually began in February 2006, with a one-year wage freeze, and which concluded nineteen months later.

The most controversial aspect of this agreement was the musicians’ decision to accept a media package that is primarily local and Internet, but also includes up to 13 national and international broadcasts. The media payment was rolled into wages, creating a significantly higher weekly scale and also allowing the orchestra to return to a full 52-week season in the final year of the agreement.

---------------------[2006-07] 2007-08 - - - - - 2008-09 - - -- 2009-10
LENGTH OF SEASON [52 wks.] --49 wks/3 layoff - 50 wks/2 layoff -- 52 wks.
Annual Salary [$98,800] $95,550 $99,250 $104,650
Weekly Salary [$1,900] $1,950 $1,985 $2,005/$2,020
26 wks/26 wks

The DSO’s private pension plan provides a benefit of $30,000 with 30 years of service at age 60, or with 85 points. Current members will continue to earn vesting and benefit service; however, members hired after September 3, 2007, will not participate in the private pension plan.

The DSO has a “blended” plan that includes a private plan in addition to contributions to the AFM-EPF. Current members will continue to receive AFM-EPF contributions of 6% on scale wages and 15% on seniority pay. Musicians hired after September 3, 2007, shall receive AFM-EPF contributions of 7% on scale wages and 15% on seniority pay.

  • Musicians will begin paying contributions of $10 single/$20 family per week beginning January 1, 2009.
  • Same sex domestic partners will now be covered.
PER DIEM: Performances in New York City and San Francisco will include an additional payment of $20 per day.

  • Regular concert length remains at 2.25 hours; however, three times per season classical concerts may be 2.5 hours with advance notice.
  • Five “grace periods” of five minutes per concert will be allowed each season for applause.
  • Pops concert length remains at 2 hours and 5 minutes; however, two times per season pops concerts may be 2.25 hours in length with advance notice.
  • Electronic Media – [Previously, the orchestra had a 26-week national radio broadcast guarantee with payment at the established NPR rate (currently $85.58), but General Motors has discontinued sponsorship.] A specific package of media work that is primarily local and Internet, and up to 13 national and international broadcasts. Payment for this media work was rolled into wages. The media language was agreed to subject to AFM approval, which they received, and any additional media work not specified in the package or additional broadcasts beyond the 13 national/international broadcasts shall be paid for at established Federation rates.
  • The 3 layoff weeks in the 2007-08 season will include 2 work weeks and one vacation week. In 2008-09, the 2-layoff weeks will both be work weeks.
  • Orchestra complement – [was 96 musicians] Becomes - 92 musicians plus 400 services to be filled by substitute musicians in 2007-08. In 2008-09, one musician will be hired by the second half of the season for a total of 93 musicians, plus 300 services to be filled by substitute musicians. In the final season the first 26 weeks will include 150 substitute services and by March 1, 2010 the number of musicians will return to 96. Two librarians are in addition to the numbers stipulated above.
  • New language regarding sound and safety complaints may now be resolved through arbitration.
  • Parental leave of one week of paid sick leave for any musician who becomes a parent through birth or adoption was added. Musicians unable to work for certified medical reasons (i.e., a birth mother) may continue to use available sick leave.
Thanks to the negotiating team: Joseph Goldman, chair; Shelley Heron, Craig Rifel, Karl Pituch, Marian Tanau and Brian Ventura. Thanks also to Local #5 president Gordon Stump, vice-president Douglas Cornelsen and secretary-treasurer Susan Barna-Ayoub and to attorney Leonard Leibowitz.

This bulletin was prepared by ICSOM Secretary, Laura Ross with the assistance of the Detroit Symphony ICSOM Delegate, Brian Ventura.
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Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
another interesting article about pay


August 27, 2010

Orchestra wages show vitality and volatility
Nancy Malitz
I've been working on a spreadsheet to track wage patterns in U.S. orchestras, mainly to find a context for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's headline-grabbing news as its Sunday night contract deadline looms. The highest offer on the table, from the Detroit musicians themselves, puts their 2010-11 salary at $22,650 less than they made in 2009-10. That's a cut of 22 percent. The lowest offer, from management, drops salary by $34,450, a cut of 33 percent in this automobile manufacturing capital blasted by international economic trends.

The Detroit orchestra's downturn, combined with recent salary concessions at most orchestras in response to the Great Recession, might suggest the possibility of a historic decline for orchestras generally.

But that's not all there is to see. While we wait to plug in numbers from Detroit, Houston, Fort Worth and other orchestras still negotiating, we might note other intriguing story lines:

1. There will be 10 orchestras in the $100,000-plus group this year, with the top six -- in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston -- well ahead of the pack. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic are also pouring money into television, web subscriptions and HD broadcasts to strengthen their appeal to global audiences. (Click charts to enlarge.)

2. The first among peers in the $100,000-plus group enjoy not only higher pay, but also higher growth rates, than the others in this category. Thus salary gaps within this echelon will continue to widen. Here's more on that:

In base pay Minnesota Orchestra musicians will earn 75% of what LA Philharmonic musicians make in the 2011-12 season, and they are likely to lose another percentage point or two by the end of the decade. The separation within these elite orchestras is even more apparent when one compares the LA Philharmonic with the smaller Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, whose musicians will earn base pay that's 56% of the LA Philharmonic in 2011-12. They will be down to 45.3% of LA by the end of the decade, assuming current trends continue. (In the following charts, if a field is blank, the current contract does not extend to that year.)

3. Volatility is huge in the second echelon, a group of 10 orchestras earning $68,000-$100,000 in base pay annually. Some jobs come with alarming uncertainty.

Here's an example of two orchestras in flux. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra would seem to offer similar opportunity, given their comparable salaries in 2010-11. But both have their upsides and their issues. (Dallas' contract ends in 2010-11, Cincinnati's in 2011-12.)

Cincinnati has a rich tradition that any musician would want to be a part of. But its recent past is troubled. Salaries plummeted in 2007-08, down to $84,480 from a high of $95,260. However, in late 2009, longtime Cincinnati arts patron Louise Nippert endowed the orchestra with $85 million to help stabilize annual operations. The musicians will be at $88,000 this season, and by 2011-12 the recovery will reach $91,520, which is where they were before the 2007-08 plummet. Meanwhile, the popular music director Paavo Järvi is leaving at the end of the season. For the anxious cellist, it's a shaky status quo.

By contrast, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra moved upward from $79,924 to $82,524 in 2008-09 and is now at $83,274. Dallas musicians enjoy an additional $6,760 in electronic media guarantees (for recording and broadcasting), an amount much higher than the industry norm. If you combine base salary and the EMG, Dallas musicians will make $90,034 in 2010-11. Cincinnati musicians, whose EMG is $750, will make $88,750.

Dallas is in the middle of a love affair with its Dutch music director, Jaap van Zweden. But D Magazine reports that the Dallas Symphony is sweating out its own financial crunch, as major donors are feeling overburdened. The community has $30 million to go on its ambitious $354 million capital campaign to finance the AT&T Performing Arts Center, which opened in October 2009 as a venue for the Dallas Opera and other performing arts institutions. The CEOs of both the Dallas Symphony and the AT&T Performing Arts Center have recently resigned.

Which audition -- Cincinnati or Dallas -- is the young musician to choose?

Here's a look at this entire second echelon, the $68,000-$100,000 group, with year-over-year gain-loss comparisons. The instability is apparent.

And the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, if and when there is a settlement, will give a whole new meaning to volatility at this pay level.

Please note: The second echelon spreadsheet, above, has been updated to reflect a second drop in Baltimore Symphony base salary levels that occurred in March 2010. Thanks to the musicians who alerted me to this additional information.

5. Tangential surprise: While surfing the web to fill in a few blanks in the chart, I stumbled across this trend-watching article on American orchestras from Time magazine projecting the End of an Era. I got through quite a bit of it before I realized it was written in 1969.

Source information: Compiled by Nancy Malitz from information posted on ICSOM.org (the site of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians), orchestra websites and documents.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
here's some trial and tribulations of a couple smaller orchestras just south of us in Ohio

Columbus' orchestra may be silenced, but Toledo Symphony plays on

As the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle filled on May 9, shortly before the final Classics Series concert of the season, anticipation of the music to come — pianist William Wolfram, a Toledo favorite, plus principal conductor Stefan Sanderling — was tempered by sobering news from Columbus.

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the premiere arts organization in Ohio’s capital, was about to become history.

Or so it seemed at the time.

After three seasons of serious budget deficits, a projected loss of more than $3 million for the 2008-09 program, and an April 25 rejection by symphony musicians of 20 to 30 percent cuts to staffing, salary, and benefits, officials had made the decision to cancel several summer pops concert series.

It was all downhill from there.

CSO board chairman Buzz Trafford announced the organization would be out of money by the end of May. Within a few days, the entire new season had been canceled and CSO offices were slated to close as of today unless a last-minute agreement is reached.
Despite offers by the musicians to negotiate a 6.5 percent pay cut and a reduction
in forces, orchestra management proceeded with their plans to dismantle the 57-year-old orchestra.

“At the end of the day, people have to understand that we’ve got a huge dinosaur
here that has to be fed 500 bales of hay a day,” said Tony Beadle, who had come to
Columbus in 2006 from the Boston Pops to serve as the symphony’s executive director.

Dinosaur? The comparison causes Toledo Symphony resident conductor Chelsea
Tipton II to wince. Dinosaur implies outdated, overgrown, inflexible - qualities that work against the success of any arts group, anywhere.
A combination of solid endowments, local support, and effective fiscal management have kept Toledo's symphony in solid shape financially and in no danger of the kind of meltdown Columbus is suffering.

"I've been with the Toledo Symphony for six years. This orchestra has a good spirit and good players who understand the importance of community outreach and relationships," he said.

'Sad commentary'

There are more similarities than differences between the Toledo and Columbus symphonies.

• Both retain 50-plus professional musicians whose primary job is performing in concerts from classical series to pops and small ensembles.

• Both manage an industry standard 38-week season, although Toledo offers more diversity of performance styles than Columbus, with Mozart and More, the Blade Chamber Series, and many, many regional concerts. Both groups also support summer pops series.

• Both pay their full-time musicians salaries. Columbus salaries average about $60,000 a year, but top players earn more than $100,000. Toledo salaries average much less - from a minimum of $25,700 to $32,000 for principals. Only a few Toledo musicians reach the six-figure mark.

• Toledo's orchestra runs on an annual budget of $6 million. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra budget this year was $13 million. The proposed budget for next year was between $9 and $11 million.

• Columbus received $261,417 from the Greater Columbus Arts Council this season, although the group announced it was cutting off the CSO after news of its demise. Toledo receives very little local government funding, although it did receive a Mellon Foundation grant in 2003 to improve internal and external communications.

• Both orchestras also supply musicians for local opera and ballet productions.

Toledo Symphony president Bob Bell said he hopes the problems in Columbus don't have any impact in Toledo.

"I think it's an unfortunate comment on our industry, when this happens, a sad commentary on the struggle communities go through to maintain something as vital as we believe an orchestra to be."

Toledo has never come close to losing its orchestra, he noted. "We've had deficits but none as large as that in Columbus."

But many a city's orchestra has experienced serious financial troubles - the tally includes Detroit, Pittsburgh, Nashville, and Newark.

And in the last decade or so, the Florida and the Tulsa Philharmonics, the Savannah Symphony Orchestra, and symphonies in Colorado Springs in Colorado and San Jose (Calif.) have gone extinct.

None were newcomers; one was more than a century old, and Tulsa's orchestra was almost the same age as the Columbus ensemble: 53 years.

Long-term effects

Tipton was associate conductor in Savannah when that orchestra went out of business.

"I'm not sure the community realizes the impact that has," he said. Not only are concerts canceled and musicians unemployed, but the next generation of musicians is afflicted.

"By not having the symphony as sponsor and source of support, the youth orchestra ceases to exist. Then what are their kids going to do?" Tipton asked. In Savannah, he said, the youth orchestra was canceled a few weeks after the symphony closed.

Like Toledo's symphony, which marks its 65th season of continual music in 2008-2009, the capital city orchestra was the product of visionary community activists who formed the Columbus Little Symphony in 1951 out of the remnants of an earlier group.

Also like Toledo (and most of this country's orchestras at some time in their past) the Columbus Symphony Orchestra began as a per-service group. Instead of a core of dedicated players, the orchestras comprised freelance musicians hired and paid per service for rehearsals and concerts. Both groups have evolved into more permanent status in the late 20th century.

The bottom line

Establishing a core orchestra means securing enough funding to guarantee a living wage to musicians. Development leaders tap industry and private donors, creating endowed chairs. Columbus lists nine endowed chairs on its roster; Toledo has 14 such positions covering nearly every section except double bass.

Professionals earn their wages in rehearsals and concerts as well as special events, including regional and educational performances, and in smaller ensembles. Most also teach privately and many maintain solo and ensemble performing schedules in out-of-town venues as well as substituting for musicians in other orchestras on occasion.

As such, a professional musician's schedule, while not the 9 to 5, Monday-Friday routine that can add up to a minimum 2,000 hours a year for the typical American worker, tends to cluster around evenings and weekends, including holidays, typically in one or more two to three-hour bursts of high-energy performances per day. Musicians are not paid for private practice, although two to three hours daily is not unusual for an individual player.

In January, the Columbus board ordered a 40 percent annual salary cut from all musicians, with no restoration in additional years. In addition to now earning a minimum of $33,000, musicians also would pick up more of their health insurance premiums. The number of full-time musicians was to be slashed by 22; the season would be shortened, and the wage for those who became part-time musicians would go from $150 to $100 per service.

The sum total of these cuts was to save the CSO $1.4 million next season - not even half the projected deficit.

Ohio's capital band, which had celebrated its 50th anniversary with a concert in Carnegie Hall in 2001 and had released commercial recordings, was heading backward, double time.

A few days later, countermeasures were in place trying to prevent the CSO's demise.

A major anonymous gift guaranteed payroll through May 31. High class "rent parties" were pulling in additional funds to meet the current shortfall. Community activists were coming forward with alternate funding plans, many of which called on the board to examine the entire CSO operation for savings. Negotiations between the board and the musicians' organization were reopened, with $500,000 in cost-cutting options offered by the musicians.

Toledo 'blessed'

But money seems to be only an expression of a deeper level of musical discord in Franklin County.

Alan Taplin, longtime Toledo Symphony horn player and head of the musicians' association, said, "The culture of some organizations is really not very cooperative. Some seem unable to communicate between the board and the players."

"You'd think, with time even if just for your own self-interest you would learn how to communicate," said Taplin, who has bachelor's and master's degrees in horn from the University of Michigan and teaches at the University of Toledo and Hillsdale College.

On managing on a much smaller budget, albeit presenting the same number of concerts each season in Toledo as the CSO does in the state capital, Bell said simply, "We're blessed with engaged and caring trustees. We have musicians who are informed and who have shown restraint in labor negotiations."

The symphony has gone five years with no budget increase, Bell noted. Fund-raising continues to supply money, especially necessary in the face of nearly disappearing public funds. "We've tried to create and maintain an environment where we share the problems," he said.

Agreeing, Taplin said, "If we ever found ourselves in dire straits, I can see it would be discussed at length with all the players."

Tipton said coming from Savannah to Toledo gave him a new lease on his musical life.

"I came into this job with hurt feelings. I was disillusioned with the music business. But this job in Toledo has really reinvigorated my passion."

And, he added, "If I had to distill everything about the success or failure of an arts organization, it boils down to trust. Somewhere that's been broken. Once that's broken it's hard to get it back."
Contact Sally Vallongo at: svallongo@theblade.com.
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Old King Log
Staff member
One of the guys that I occasionally use as a sideman used to play in the Tulsa organization during a prior life. He said that the mismanagement was incredible, and that he was glad that he was never dependent upon the income from the orchestra.

(Both he and his wife are odd ducks in that they are both doctors, but neither of them practices medicine. She has a doctorate in nursing, he in clarinet.)

San Jose is the prototypical case of what's wrong. They have just enough interest there to organize an orchestra, but nowhere near enough interest to support one. They have risen and fallen no less than three times in my living memory.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
This is interesting ...

Last Updated: March 01. 2011 1:02PM
DSO musicians vote to return to work with no contract

Michael H. Hodges / Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

Striking Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have just approved an unconditional offer to return to work without a contract, according to spokesman Greg Bowens.

The details of the surprise offer will be made public today at 2 p.m. in front of Orchestra Hall.

In a press release on the subject, the musicians offer to "end the strike by returning to work under the conditions management has imposed on the employees and without a new contract settlement."

Management's implementation of a contract with more than 30 percent pay cuts in first-year base pay
sparked the Oct. 4 walkout, though Bowens declined to say whether those are the conditions under which musicians expect to return.. In January, DSO officials put a more generous offer on the table with cuts of about 20 percent, but withdrew it and suspended the rest of the 2010-2011 seasons when musicians rejected the proposal Feb. 19.
(313) 222-6021

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110301...return-to-work-with-no-contract#ixzz1FNArM8bm


Old King Log
Staff member
...and that's the way the labor-management negotiating system is supposed to work. The AFM obviously has a very limited strike fund these days, unlike their strength under Petrillo in the 1940's. I imagine the United Mine Workers (UMW) would have lasted a lot longer as their leadership.

Unfortunately, when dealing with "artists" who have very portable skills, the DSO was running the risk that it would lose something like its percussion section (or the much more vital third clarinet/bass clarinet chair). Unlike the automobile industry, you cannot go hire some semi-skilled industrial schlub to push the bolts in. But, they'll get three guys fresh out of college and make do, only to find that their donors have fled the list. But, that too is a function of the labor-management equation.

Incidentally, the UMW reference is more germane than it might seem. Over the past fifty years, the Congress of Industrial Organizations ("CIO unions") like the United Mine Workers have taken significant steps to organize outside of their specific industries. In doing so, they have absorbed a huge number of employees formerly represented by the relatively weak American Federation of Labor (AFL) unions (traditionally representing employees with more "craft skills"), smaller groups like the American Federation of Musicians. This started when, in the 1940's and 1950's, the United Mine Workers organized a lot of non-mining activities in areas where they already had a strong presence in mining industries, grouping them all into a nebulous District 50.

In the 1970's, they decided to retrench and the United Steelworkers Union took those employee units into their union portfolio. Thus, I once visited a plant that made cottage cheese, only to find out that the union representation was the United Steel Workers (USA), another CIO union.

In recent years, the United Steelworkers have picked up the Organization of Chemical Workers, another huge CIO union through a merger. If things continue along these lines, there may be a day not too distant when the Steelworkers are representing professional musicians. If they do, the whole strike picture will change, for the better as far as the employees are concerned.