Assessing the impact of the Detroit Symphony strike

Posted on: December 21, 2010

“The Detroit Symphony Orchestra strike ends its 11th week today,” writes Mark Stryker in Sunday’s (12/19) Detroit Free Press, “seven days shy of tying the 12-week strike in 1987 as the longest in DSO history. More than one-third of the season has already been canceled. While it remains to be seen if U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s publicly recommended compromise framework might lead to a settlement, no deal appears imminent. … The orchestra has lost $2.3 million in actual and projected ticket sales through the end of the season. Earned income (like ticket sales) accounts for 30% of the budget; fund-raising makes up the rest. The losses include $815,000 in subscriptions since August, $350,000 in ticket refunds and $750,000 in single-ticket losses. … Lost subscriptions mean that the DSO’s subscriber base will fall 30% to 72,588, one of its lowest points in decades.” Meanwhile, Stryker writes in a separate piece, musicians “have lost at least $21,450 each in wages, though each has received union strike pay totaling $2,700. Two players spoke last week about their experiences. Contrabassoonist Marcus Schoon, 53, joined the DSO in 1992. He lives in Troy with his wife, a part-time teacher. The couple has two children, one in college and one just graduated. Principal bassist Alexander Hanna, 24, joined in 2008 right out of the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. He lives with his girlfriend in Royal Oak.” The players comment on their personal finances, the emotional impact of the strike, and the difficult decision of whether to stay or leave the orchestra.

Posted December 21, 2010