Sunday, September 9, 2012

Orchestras and Economic Reality

ArtsJournal reports on the new cases of orchestras not opening:

1 Atlanta
The musicians have been locked out, stripped of salary and healthcare benefits.
2 Minnesota
The players are resisting a $40,000 pay cut
3 St Paul Chamber Orchestra
A 67% cut is being demanded (UPDATE: ST Paul will open this weekend, then likely shut)
4 Indianapolis
The musicians are being put on part-time.
5 San Antonio
The players are owed $225,000 and the company is $850,000 in debt (UPDATE: the players contest these figures and hope the season can start, seee letter below).
6 A N Other Orchestra

Looking through the comments, it is pretty clear that close observers are missing the real reasons for all of us. As a close watcher of economic conditions, let me provide a corrective. 1) The recession continues and it is deep and deepening; the arts are cut before food, clothing, shelter, and education. 2) The unionization of musicians has not helped the cause of musicians overall or provided any sustainable means of funding the capital base. 3) Copyright and performance royalties are outrageous and getting worse, all a result of regulations that did not exist when orchestras were most healthy. These three factors alone account for a substantial hit.

The time to recognize economic realities in any arts organization is before the cuts become draconian and the doors close. But that turns out to be rather difficult for many managers and players to realize.