Tag Archives: barry johnson

Is there a glass ceiling for orchestral musicians?

Just a couple days ago, local classical music critic Brett Campbell wrote an omnibus review of classical music events from the latter months of 2012. Among the concerts reviewed was the opening concert of 45th Parallel’s 2012-2013 concert season, entitled “Octetlandia”. It paired two little-heard works for the string octet with the great octet of Felix Mendelssohn. The audience response was exceptional (as was the attendance). I’ve continued to hear positive comments about the concert from patrons that I’ve run into around town in the months since. Continue reading

welcome oregon arts watch

There’s a new arts blog in town, and it is definitely one that you’ll want to add to your news reader. Oregon Arts Watch features journalistic heavyweights Barry Johnson (editor), Brett Campbell (music), Lisa Radon (visual arts), and Brian Libby (arts). Take a look around their offerings here.

further reaction to portland monthly article

You’ve got to give Bill Donohue credit – he got a lot of people’s attention with his article on the Oregon Symphony and its music director Carlos Kalmar in the September issue.  It’s gotten to the point where other media outlets are starting to examine some of the issues that Bill elaborated on in his article.  Though I disagreed with some of the tone and direction of the article, I ultimately feel that the article and subsequent debate are very healthy things to be happening right now.  Barry Johnson has a wonderful article that delves into some of what he feels are important questions to be answered about the way the symphony orchestra fits into Portland’s cultural life, and it’s a welcome addition to the dialogue.

oso contract details

Here’s a very succinct summary by Barry Johnson that is better than anything that I could cobble together:

After a summer of negotiations, the Oregon Symphony Association and the union that represents its 76 musicians have reached an agreement that trims $1.4 million in pay and benefits from the symphony’s budget during the next two years, through June 2011.

The cuts amount to a 7.5 percent reduction in pay, a cut of more than 50 percent in the symphony’s contribution to the musicians’ pension and a significant change to their health insurance plan, according to Bruce Fife, the president of the local union.

primer for ailing arts groups

As a casual observer of the arts scene (and perhaps even an avid supporter and attendee of concerts) you might not be able to see through all of the raging arguments in online forums surrounding the ailing arts organization.  Barry Johnson over at the Oregonian has written a very thoughtful column about the facts surrounding the troubles of Oregon Ballet Theatre, and it’s a good template for how to approach thinking about any arts organization that’s going through difficulties.

Arts organizations in trouble are messy places. Passions run high. The fickle finger of blame gets pointed this way and that. People worry about their jobs and about the future of the art form. It’s awful.

If we’re looking in from outside, we wonder how we can make sense of it all, what we can possibly do about it and how much it really matters.

That describes almost any organization in trouble, arts or not, but right now, we’re talking about Oregon Ballet Theatre, which is in big trouble. The company, as we’ve reported, needs to raise $750,000 by June 30. The alternatives include shutting its doors for good.

Fortunately, we have people around who are used to peering into the chaos of a thrashing arts group and figuring out how to proceed. Arts consultant George Thorn, for example, has been working with the company and has helped reorganize its budgeting process to help stabilize its situation in the next fiscal year.

Click here to read the rest.