Challenging contract talks ahead for Twin Cities orchestras

Posted on: July 19, 2012

Wednesday (7/18) on the Minnesota Public Radio website, Chris Roberts reports, “It’s unusual for a metro area to have two major orchestras. It’s even more unusual for those orchestras to be engaged in contract talks with their musicians at the same time. But that is what’s happening right now with the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Both institutions face severe budget shortfalls and are exploring deep reductions in costs. Some fear that could lead to a walkout by musicians on both sides of the river. At an annual meeting last December, Minnesota Orchestra President Michael Henson reported the orchestra’s largest deficit ever—$2.9 million. … Across the river, budgetary pressures on the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra are also intense. The SPCO is staring down a projected million-dollar deficit for the 2012-2013 season. It’s also part of a consortium to raise money to build a new performance space at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts. The similarities with the Minnesota Orchestra are not lost on interim-SPCO President and board chair Dobson West. … Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras, said the ticket-buying habits of classical audiences are changing in ways that are hurting orchestras. … In Minnesota, the orchestras and the musicians say they’re eager to preserve musical quality, but money is at the root of the contract discussions.”

Posted July 19, 2012