Players in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra offered $4 million in wage concessions to help bridge a $20 million accumulated deficit. The board of the Woodruff Center locked them out without pay or healthcare for three weeks in order to squeeze an extra $1.2 million.
The players finally caved in. The process has left the orchestra looking like one of the less accessible no-go areas of a ruined downtown. Players around the country are refusing to audition for vacancies in Atlanta, knowing its bad-ass reputation. Some of the best Atlanta players are auditioning elsewhere.
The musicians who have been left trapped in its negative equity deserve our fullest sympathy in the months and years ahead. Nothing less than a total culture change in the Woodruff Center’s management will restore this stricken orchestra.
The orchestra has a music director, by the way. His name is Robert Spano. No-one has heard a peep from him. What kind of leadership is that?
Here’s the ASO’s press release:
ATLANTA — A two-year labor agreement between the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players Association (ASOPA), the Atlanta Federation of Musicians, Local 148-462, and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra management was announced today. This will allow the Orchestra’s 2012-13 season to open as scheduled on Thursday, October 4, 2012, with Music Director Robert Spano and the renowned violinist Midori.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the musicians covers the period from September 23, 2012, through September 6, 2014, and amounts to $2.4 million in annual contractual savings. Additional savings will come as a result of ASO senior staff compensation —which will be reduced by 6% for the duration of the two-year contract— as well as unfilled staff positions, and savings from foregone wages and benefits from the musicians.
Management must still generate at least an additional $2.5 million in earned and contributed revenues to balance the annual projected budget deficit gap of $5 million. The Orchestra’s accumulated deficit is approaching $20 million — its annual operating budget is $45 million and its annual revenue is approximately $40 million.