labor issues music the orchestra world

columbus symphony circling the drain?

The news from Columbus seems to be getting more dire by the day, and those with the power to change the situation seem unwilling to do so (or to be charitable, unable to do so). Here’s a collection of posts from around the classical blogosphere concerning the situation in Columbus as of late.

What bothers me the most about this situation is that the responsibility for the plight of the orchestra is being placed squarely on the shoulders of the musicians. According to the board, management, and the editorial board of the Columbus Dispatch, the musicians are selfish and greedy for being unwilling to accept the cuts which are being proposed.

In an orchestra with a multi-year CBA, the costs of the musicians’ salaries are the one factor which can be budgeted for in advance – the numbers are agreed to and known in advance. Certainly, compensation package items such as health care expenses can take sudden up or (ha!) down turns, and those can cause some cash flow problems.

If there were ever a clear cut case of mis-management on the part of both the administration and board of an orchestra, this is a text book example. I just hope that the 08-09 season doesn’t consist of the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony playing run-out concerts in Columbus – it’s a fear expressed by some CSO musicians, and given the Cleveland Orchestra’s expansion into South Florida (after the demise of the similarly mis-managed Philharmonic Orchestra of Florida) to supplement it’s income, it’s not out of the realm of possibility…

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