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Atlanta Symphony faces $20 million black hole, thanks to whom…?

Players are being urged to take a $20,000 pay cut each to help the orch cope with a spiralling debt that has risen from $1.1 million nine years ago to a projected $19.8 million next year. The board says its problems stem from an inflated wage bill, based on the last player agreement, negotiated four years ago, giving the players an $88,410 base salary.

Who negotiated that agreement, and then lit out in 2010 when the going got tough?

Hands up Alison Vulgamore, the Philadelphia Orch’s bankruptcy negotiator, who recently awarded herself a massive pay hike and hired two extra v-ps to lighten her workload. If Atlanta’s in trouble, ask Alison why.

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  1. Peter Freeman says:

    One hopes that does not mean they can no longer afford to hire the services as Principal Guest Conductor of the excellent Donald Runnicles OBE, who just stunned his Edinburgh audience with a monumental reading of Strauss’ Alpine Symphony.

  2. Linda Grace says:

    Yup, and Ms. Vulgamore was unemployed before hired by Philadelphia with such a wonderful salary.

  3. It was ten years and two months ago that Alison Vulgamore announced that Santiago Calatrava had been selected as architect for the Atlanta Symphony’s new concert hall.

    Groundbreaking was scheduled for 2005, with an opening for 2008.

    That particular Vulgamore project worked out nicely, didn’t it?

    • Will Drach says:

      More musical magic by Vulmagore and her charlatan senior managers at the Atlanta Symphony. The ASO (bad) dream team roster still includes Donald Fox, Charlie Wade, John Sparrow, Evans Mirageas. Research indicates devo genius Paul Hogle fled to the Detroit Symphony and symphony hall mastermind Tom Tomlinson was dumped on the South Kentucky Arts Center. Tomlinson’s resume included not getting the Miami arts center built – after tens of millions in design overruns he got the boot. Over $50 million in cash was squandered on a Calatrava design that likely will never get built in Atlanta this century. “The Vulgamore Legacy” lives!

      Time for Atlanta Symphony lovers to stop buying tickets and stop giving money to this “management” team. The board needs to boot out Dr. Romanstein and the Vulgamore cronies. Pity the musicians, general staff, loyal attendees and donors are going to get left picking up the tab on these miscreants.

  4. Tamara Meinecke says:

    Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

  5. Are we sure the problem is the orchestra contract? It is a very easy and frequently used excuse for bloated or unwise management.

  6. Greed, greed, greed. The central problem of first world economies in particular, and highlighted by issues such as this. The woman doubtless cares about her own interests, nothing else.

    A pay cut would not be unreasonable for players (people survive on less than half their base salary), but not while some self-important extortionist is rorting the system at the top end.

  7. I am not sure what your point is. Allison is to blame for the inflated wage scale? She negotiated a contract that gave too much to the musicians? Is it your suggestion that the musician’s ARE making too much?

    It is very easy to take pot shots at the person on top. If the mistake Ms. Vulgamore made was negotiating a contract with too much money for the musicians, then, as a member of a symphony orchestra, I say good for her. I would prefer that kind of “mistake.” I, for one, do not believe musicians are overpaid, as you are clearly suggesting.

    Doubtless there is a board (which you barely mentioned) which controls everything, including Ms. Vulgamore’s salary. If there is anyone to blame, it would be them. Ms. Vulgamore does not pay herself, as you imply. Her wages and compensation are governed by the board. Who among us would turn down a raise when it is offered? or, for that matter, a better job?

    This is part of the reason we have very little talent running our arts organizations, or, for that matter, our government. Whenever anything goes wrong, simple minds pass judgement without taking the time to study the problem or to learn the industry.

  8. Neil van der Linden says:

    A pity that adopting modern management methods, often required by governments in a – - non unjustified – drive for better cost-efficiency, sometimes leads to importing the worst managers’ practices. Moreover it should be taken into account that many of those who infiltrate in the arts world posing as managers would not survive for a minute in the real banking world.

  9. M.L. Overton says:

    Anyone who has watched the American symphony orchestra scene from the mid-1980s onward could have told the Atlanta Symphony (assuming that orchestra or any other would have listened) that Allison Vulgamore was a showy, self-promoting (faux) administrator who knew how to work the system (and her “network”) to move upward through the ranks. It is not surprising that she is now working as a “consultant,” the profession that is the last result of those who want to display themselves but take no responsibility for the results of their advice. The entire music world in the States is infested with them. They sometimes last for years, staying one step ahead of their own incompetence, but eventually – as in Atlanta – thyey are finally exposed.

  10. C. Hancock says:

    Well said. The “showy, self-promoting administrator working the system” is right on the money (no pun intended). I never understood how a very conservative, “Southern” board was willing to hire and listen to a woman–a loud, boisterous oneat that. She used all of the right words….and we heard them over and over again.

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