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Minnesota just got a whole lot worse

The players, who have been locked out, wanted to talk.

The management and board of directors said, in effect, nothing to talk about. Accept the cuts, or starve.

The players asked for an audit of donations, particularly the $50 million for a new lobby.

The bosses said, none of your business.

Michael Henson, who is nominally running the orchestra, did not behave this way in England. It sounds as though the place is turning into a cheap remake of On the Waterfront.


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  1. William Safford says:

    In the article, management’s role in the current debacle is portrayed as passive, whereas orchestra salaries are assigned an actively negative role.

    From the article:

    “But the orchestra’s leaders have said even as its reputation grows they’ve seen flat attendance, declining corporate and individual support, and poor results from investments. Meanwhile, salaries grew by 3 to 4 percent annually under the previous contract.”

    So, the orchestra leaders are just passive observers as the orchestra’s finances went to hell in a handbasket?

    It’s an example of Orwellian “swindles and perversions.”

    Around here we call that part of speech the “Past Exonerative.” The epitome of the Past Exonerative? “Mistakes were made.”

    Take away the distancing, and what do we read? I took the liberty of rewriting the paragraph for clarity:

    “Under orchestra leadership, attendance has remained flat, individual and corporate support has declined, and the results of orchestra investments have been poor. Orchestra leadership failed to raise the money to meet the terms of the musicians’ contract, under which salaries grew by 3 to 4 percent annually.”

    There — that paragraph would past muster in a writing class.

    • Thank you for the apt clarification. What a tragedy this is. Does management remain on the payroll?

      • William Safford says:

        You’re welcome.

        Management remains on payroll, despite their abject failure at doing their job — to field an orchestra to produce live music.

        The musicians are locked out, and have been denied pay and health insurance, despite having received some of the highest accolades before the lockout for how they did their jobs.

      • Silly girl. What do you think? :-)

        Costs money to lock these folks out.

  2. Chris H. Smith says:

    Even if it is none of the players’ business, something I find highly unlikely, it seems to me that it should be the public’s business, particularly if any public money has gone to the orchestra. At the very least it should be the donors’ business.

  3. Ghillie Forrest says:

    I suspect there are all too many donors who care as much about the design, comfort and bar accessibility of the lobby as they do about what goes on in the hall.

    • Elizabeth Erickson says:

      The sold out crowd at the Minnesota Orchestra’s first locked out concert held at the convention center doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the bar setup. The hundreds of patrons, who in the middle of a work day, found time to go downtown Mpls and walk with the musician at the rally don’t either. They are seasoned concert goers and they know the difference between a first rate orchestra and one that’s not. Some of the biggest donors who support our orchestra by contributing millions came to that concert.

      Nothing matches up financially. Management went parading the “world’s greatest orchestra (according to Alex Ross) and Osmo Vanska around town drumming up donations for the new lobby –all the while they knew there was serious issues and did their best to hide those from the donors and public.
      The Minnesota Orchestra has the 6th or 8th (I’m not sure which one) largest endowment in the country. For management and board to scream poverty and cut salaries by around 40% and say that the current financial information in none of the musicians, patrons, and tax payers business borders on insanity.

      • Mary Anne Chalkley says:

        I agree. I also think the fact that management won’t consider arbitration says something about their desire for secrecy.

  4. Manny Laureano says:

    I did not become a member of the Minnesota Orchestra in order to watch it rise to an artistic zenith then plummet so that I would, after 31 years, say, “I coulda been a contenda.”

    • Juliana Sadock Savino says:

      Unfortunately, some donor is crowing, “I coulda been a rotunda.” ƒ’n edifice complex.

    • I am a professional violinist BECAUSE of observing my family’s reverence for the Minnesota Orchestra while I was growing up. I am unspeakably horrified.

  5. This statement, IMO, sums up the MO management position: “These orchestras still report a high number of qualified candidates applying for positions that do become available.”

  6. Cyndy Crist says:

    This is one sustaining guarantor who suspended donations the day that management locked out the musicians. I’m not wealthy enough to be a big contributor, but I’ve been a guarantor for at least the last decade and a subscriber for much longer. Then, I look at the millions of pubic dollars poured into a baseball stadium and now a football stadium, and at the millions paid to athletes, and I wonder where the support is for the arts and what’s wrong with us as a society that our values could have become so skewed.

  7. Many wealthy donors who contributed to building renovations feel like they were mislead by Henson and Co. regarding the health (still questionable how dire the straits are), and more importantly about the “vision for the future” (apparently as a glorified pick-up pops band) of the organization. To paraphrase Mr T, “I pity the fools that disrespect the donors!” The vast majority of them love the orchestra for the music and care about the community the music serves. Their voices will be heard and heads will roll. Just hope change comes in time to save both the MN Orchestra and SPCO from the clueless, destructive corporate hacks currently at the helm in both orchestras.

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