Are full-time orchestra musician contracts “unrealistic”?

Posted on: January 3, 2011

Last Tuesday (12/28) on his Baltimore Sun blog Clef Notes, Tim Smith wrote, “For a while, it looked like the worst of recession’s effects had done their damage on arts organizations and 2010 would be the turnaround year. But as the days on the calendar dwindle down to a precious few, the clouds have thickened considerably. Things are especially dark on the orchestral front. … I worry about an attitude that seems to be spreading inside some orchestra management and consultant circles, as well as among some music journalists—an attitude that essentially dismisses professional musicians as unrealistic. You want a 52-week contract and a good wage? Too extravagant. Go sell insurance or shoes on the side and be happy with 12 or 22 or 32 weeks. You think artistic standards will slip if we lower your pay and some of the best players leave to find greener fields? Who cares? There are young, hungry conservatory grads all over the place willing to take any wage. No one will know the difference. … The establishment of numerous full-time orchestras was a major achievement in this country during the past 50 years or so; the maintenance of dozens more was likewise a source of pride. If any more slip away in 2011, we will all be the poorer.”

Posted January 3, 2011