The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is embroiled in a player-management dispute that could doom their upcoming season. At issue: player benefits, salaries, and retirement plans. Management wants to be realistic about costs, players want to be able to make a living, blah blah blah. Here’s the NPR account:
Alas, it is déjà vu all over again for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. (…) ASO musicians and management failed to meet the deadline to agree on a new contract after eight months of negotiations. That means the players, while still employees of the orchestra, are effectively locked out of the Woodruff Arts Center (the orchestra’s home) and will not receive paychecks until a new agreement can be ratified. ASO musicians demonstrated outside the hall Tuesday. A similar labor dispute silenced the orchestra exactly two years ago.
It’s a sad day when strikes & lockouts are a normal part of business for arts outfits. When did things get so bad?
On the one hand, we’re used to strikes in various businesses. There was a shortened 2011-12 NBA season. The NFL had its replacement refs last year (seems like a quaint scandal now, huh?). Here in Boston, Market Basket employees rebelled against ownership for a long summer. When there’s millions of dollars at stake, there’s tension over the commas on those outgoing checks.
On the other hand, what the hell kind of world are we living in when every season is a negotiation, when a major orchestra doesn’t know season to season if it’ll be doing the full year, part of the year, or none at all. These are people’s jobs! People bought tickets! The public wants music!
Startup arts groups harbor naked jealousies over the massive endowments and donor lists of major orchestras. So how the hell are we supposed to be jealous if orchestras start imploding? God damn it, Atlanta Symphony, make us green with envy! Solve this and get back to being smug & superior. We all need it.
And in case you wonder what value orchestras bring to their towns, allow the Atlanta Symphony illustrate: