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The following artists have not been paid in Sicily

A short while back, we circulated a post by the pianist Valentina Lisitsa explaining why she won’t play again at the Palermo Classica Festival. Simple reason: she never got paid. Nor were many others. They have asked us to circulate their names as a way of shaming the city and its festival off the international circuit and into the disgrace they evidently deserve. Read their appeal below:

 

valentina lisitsa palermo

We ask for fair justice and fair punishment of people who taint
classical music with shoddy business and dishonest way.

We ask for Italian and international press to make our voice heard.

We ask the sponsors, from corporations to EU foundations to think
twice before giving money to the festival which spends it on lavish
parties and well-stuffed luxury headquarters instead of paying young
artists for their work.

We ask for any musicians cheated by this festival to come forward in
order to take our case to courts if needed, but publicity and
transparency is the best remedy. Villains are afraid of publicity and
public scrutiny.

Sincerely

Valentina Lisitsa – pianist

Francesco Attardi conductor

John Neschling conductor

Janos Acs condutor

Paul Badura Skoda – pianist

Catherine Manoukian – violinist

Gunter Neuhold conductor

Martina Filijak pianist

Miriam Genovese flautist

Andrea Scarpa – Double bass

Roberta Trentuno oboist

Sara Mescia Clarinett

Guendalina Pulcinelli violinist

Flora Maria Todaro cellist

Ivana Calabrese oboist

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Comments

  1. Too many arts organizations and individual arts presenters around the world treat music artists as undeserving of expected payment or negotiation of such regarding concert fees and travel expenses. Their raison d’être is that the musician plays only for the love of the performing art, and, therefore, doesn’t need to be paid for his work. This is a sheer nonsense and it must stop. It is our work, our profession, and we deserve the same respect to make a living out of it as in any business profession. Bravo to the above artists who have had the courage to speak up and protest for all of us professional musicians and of all the arts whether aural, visual or literary.

  2. One solution is to stop accepting “payment after” in the contract. Insist on 1/3 at signing, 1/3 prior to the performance and 1/3 after. That’s similar to how freelance graphic artists work.

    If a prospective client doesn’t have 1/3 on hand now they aren’t serious about having 3/3 later.

    • James Brinton says:

      Won’t work. I have a concert pianist friend (not listed above, BTW, so things are worse than the list would indicate) who insisted on full payment by wire transfer before going there. After the concert, he checked his account and the money had somehow been pulled back; I didn’t even know that was possible, but–hey–it was Sicily.

      • If “they somehow pulled back a wire transfer” was an actual occurrence then how is ANY payment, before or after the performance, reliable?

        I’d advise your concert pianist friend to move to a bank that won’t permit such an absurdity to happen.

  3. David Boxwell says:

    This is no way to treat an 85 year-old performing artist (P B S), much less the younguns aming the signatories.

  4. Diego Theumann says:

    Is there a justification by the NON PAYING concerts’ organizers ? Is it a public or a private institution? This hurts the good name of Sicily and of all of Italy ! Ai RESPONSABILI:aspettiamo una posizione !

  5. It’s completely ridiculous that they haven’t been paid, and good for them for publicizing it.

  6. Disgraceful behaviour. Could Inspector Montalbano help.

  7. I wrote you about this a few months ago. This is common now all over Italy. Some artists are asked to wait months – in one case was asked to wait a year. Another friend was given half her fee and told that she could take it or leave it. A student singing at the MET last year said this was the most talked about situation amongst singers over lunch, etc. Gettng paid properly in some countries has always been an issue but NOT BEING PAID is just wrong. If you get into a taxi and ask to be taken somewhere and the driver refuses but you don’t pay even the simple $1 on the meter you can be arrested for theft of service. Thanks for posting the names of the artists. Maybe this one small act will start something significant. I hope so. Sincerely, Lauren Flanigan

  8. Composer royalties are also not being paid in some places. I’ve been paid from Italy (never had a performance in Sicily), but royalties from Portugal and Belgium have never been paid, for example. Finland and the Netherlands, on the other hand, pay promptly.

  9. Angela Cockburn says:

    Happens to pub, club and party musicians all the time, too. And crew.

  10. Claude Villaret – Conductor
    I am still waiting for the payment of a concert in November 2006 in Athen’s Megaron – a most impressive concert hall- with Athen State Orchestra and Dimitris Sgouros as soloist … actually I suspect the manager Werner Walschburger from Euroconcert Gmbh in Wengen, Germany to have put the money in his pocket … be very careful with this man and his concert agency, Berliner Symphoniker has made a similar experience !

  11. Well done Norman and Lisitsa! As an Italian-based blog I’ve done my bit… keep us informed.
    http://www.gramilano.com/2013/09/classical-musicians-palermo-classica-go-unpaid/

  12. Valentina Lisitsa says:

    Is it possible to post the full text of the letter signed by the artists above???? :
    Dear Mr.Lebrecht,

    We would like to ask your help to make known the outrage committed against musicians by Palermo Classica Festival in Sicily. The management of the festival was in habit of paying artists very late, sometimes 11 to 18 months late. There was at least one instance of an artist receiving a bad check. Nobody ever raised their voice publicly against this shameless practice and the festival, sensing that they can do anything unpunished, stopped paying many artists, who accepted to perform for a special extra low cachet, in order to help a very young orchestra. This pattern appeared back in 2011 ( as far as we know – maybe others will come forward with more insight into previous years) and became pervasive in 2012. The festival sent out a letter informing some participants that “government funds became suddenly frozen” and the festival was unable to honor its obligations. This letter came to some in the very beginning of the festival – after they played. Others, pre-paying for their own hotel and flights to the festival, were unaware of anything sinister happening – only to get the same explanation, but later. Many established musicians were cheated in this way but it was much worse for young musicians coming from far-away countries only to find out that not only they will not got paid but their travel came out of their own pocket. All those concerts were well attended, with many tickets sold to enthusiastic audiences, with many corporate donors and in-kind contributions given. Again, the festival gambled and almost won on assumption that their story is believable and nobody will raise public questions.
    Yet the questions begged to be raised with announcement of a new festival – with names like Ludovico Enaudi, Valentina Lisitsa, Lola Astanova to name a few. The festival boasted more than 80000 euro in corporate contributions, free use of rehearsal and performing facilities, free printed advertisements, gave credits to funding received from EU, central, regional and local governments in Italy. Yet all the questions about paying the musicians from previous year fell on deaf ears.
    One if this year festival participants, Valentina Lisitsa, was more willing to help than others. Billed as one of big attractions of the festival, with sold-out concerts in big theaters of Palermo, Taormina and Trapani, Ms. Lisitsa was not afraid to ask the festival director about the situation. Given nothing but very evasive answers from the festival, all while uncovering more and more musicians who suffered damages, she gave what amounts to an ultimatum to the festival. She told them that she will not be coming unless all the musicians are paid for their previous performances. Her threat worked, at least partially. Trying to placate her, the festival director sent a few small and partial payments to some artists, begging them to be patient and promising to pay the rest the day AFTER she performs. Even then the management kept being dishonest, sending computer screen shots of purported bank transfers that never arrived to their recipients. Caught once again, the festival resorted to thinly veiled threats against artists whom the director suspected of being “trouble-makers”. Situation was spiraling out of hands and Ms. Lisitsa held her word by canceling her engagements. The true reason was never made public until now.
    We ask for fair justice and fair punishment of people who taint classical music with shoddy business and dishonest way.
    We ask for Italian and international press to make our voice heard.
    We ask the sponsors, from corporations to EU foundations to think twice before giving money to the festival which spends it on lavish parties and well-stuffed luxury headquarters instead of paying young artists for their work.
    We ask for any musicians cheated by this festival to come forward in order to take our case to courts if needed, but publicity and transparency is the best remedy. Villains are afraid of publicity and public scrutiny.
    Sincerely>>>>>>

  13. Valentina Lisitsa says:

    Small, but significant correction, please! I declined to play not because I didn’t get paid but because others didn’t get paid. I played several concerts for free and would have been free for the festival this year too.

  14. This happened at the Taormina Festival in 2010 for the entire cast of Turandot and it was never resolved. It’s still being pursued in court. Yeah, good luck with that….

  15. I played in Austria mmm.. 2 years ago and I’m still waitin’ …. welcome to the music business

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