Minnesota Orchestra December concerts cancelled or rescheduled to next season
Musicians’ failure to put forward a counterproposal prompts further changes to concert schedule
Six December programs are cancelled and five programs will be rescheduled for the 2013 holiday season
(November 8, 2012) The Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA) has cancelled or rescheduled its concert performances running from Friday, November 30 through Sunday, December 23, noting that contract talks with its musicians are currently at a standstill, with the Union not yet submitting a counterproposal. All ticketholders of impacted concerts are being contacted and offered a variety of ticket options including the opportunity to exchange tickets for a future concert or receive a refund. For a complete list of cancelled/rescheduled concerts, see page three.
“We are very disappointed that we are no closer to an agreement today than we were in April,” said Minnesota Orchestra Board Chair Jon Campbell. “In consideration of the needs of audiences, guest artists and our performance venue to make alternate plans for the holiday season, we feel we have no choice but to cancel performances through December 23. We make this decision with heavy hearts, and once again ask our musicians to return to the negotiating table with a substantive proposal so our concert schedule can resume as soon as possible.”
Contract talks between the MOA and its musicians, who are members of the Twin Cities Musicians’ Union (Local 30-73), began on April 12. The MOA’s final proposal offers a total package averaging $119,000, including an average salary of $89,000 with $30,000 in benefits per musician. The proposal also includes 10 weeks of paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave. Musicians have never put forward a counterproposal, but have instead called for the Board to submit to binding arbitration, to conduct an independent financial audit, or to engage in “pay and play.”
“Moving to a ‘pay and play’ agreement following our contract’s expiration would result in our organization continuing to incur significant operating losses,” said Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Michael Henson. “We simply cannot continue operating under the terms of a contract our community cannot afford.” The board turned down the players’ suggestion of binding arbitration, noting that it is highly unusual to turn to arbitration to settle a contract dispute when one party has yet to engage in negotiations by submitting a proposal. The Board has been supportive of involving a neutral third party in the contract talks, however, and a Federal Mediator is overseeing the negotiations. Every year the MOA undergoes an independent audit and previous years’ audited financials have all been shared with musicians. The MOA is currently undergoing an independent audit for F2012 which will be shared with musicians upon its completion.
A Painful Time for All
“This is a very painful time for Orchestra leadership, musicians and all Minnesotans who love classical music,” said MOA Negotiations Committee Chair Richard Davis. “It is the Board’s role to safeguard the Orchestra for the long term so that it may serve our community for many decades to come as an artistically great and financially solvent organization. The fact is if we continue to draw down our endowment at the current rate, which is more than three times what is considered sustainable, to fund a contract we cannot afford, the MOA endowment will be depleted by 2018 and the future of the Minnesota Orchestra will be in jeopardy. We believe that our community deserves a solution, and we hope that our musicians will come back to the table at their earliest possible convenience.”
In 2011, the Minnesota Orchestra posted a $2.9 million deficit, the largest in the Orchestra’s history, and the organization anticipates an operating loss near $6 million for Fiscal 2012, for which an independent audit is currently underway. The musicians’ 2007 contract, which expired on October 1, 2012, included an increase of 19.2 percent to musician base salary over the life of the five-year contract. The Orchestra’s Board fulfilled that contractual obligation to musicians by taking additional draws from the organization’s endowment.
All ticketholders to December concerts will be directly contacted by the Orchestra to outline ticketing options. “We have sought to give our ticketholders advance notice around these concert cancellations in order to allow them time to make alternate plans during a busy holiday entertainment season,” said Henson. “We’ve also tried to reschedule as many of the performers as possible in December 2013, so that our patrons still have the opportunity to see these popular artists.”
- Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, November 30-December 1
- Brandenburg Concertos, December 6-8
- ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, December 8
- Tonic Sol-fa, December 10
- Handel’s Messiah, December 13-16
- The African Children’s Choir, December 20
Rescheduled Concerts (These programs will be presented during the 2013 Holiday Season with new dates as outlined below)
- Celtic Woman, December 7 | rescheduled date TBA
- Chris Botti Christmas, December 14 | rescheduled date November 29, 2013
- The Tenors, December 19 | rescheduled date TBA
- A Scandinavian Christmas, December 20 & 22 | both dates rescheduled for December 21, 2013
- Jingle Bell Doc, December 21 | rescheduled for December 20, 2013
- Jingle Bell Doc, December 23 | rescheduled for December 22, 2013
The Minnesota Orchestra Box Office will be directly in touch with concertgoers to share the following options:
- Ticketholders may keep their tickets until a new contract is in place and performances resume. The Orchestra will bank the value of these tickets in the ticketholder’s account and keep in touch by mail. When a settlement is reached, the Orchestra will contact ticketholders to reactivate the value of their tickets for another concert this season.
- Ticketholders may exchange their cancelled tickets tickets now to a future concert this season. All related fees will be waived.
- Ticketholders may apply the value of their unused tickets towards a gift certificate.
- Ticketholders may consider the full face value of their unused tickets a tax-deductible contribution to the Minnesota Orchestral Association.
- Ticketholders may request a refund for the full value of their ticket purchase including related fees.
- For Rescheduled Concerts -- Ticketholders to rescheduled concerts may choose any of the above options or they may attend the rescheduled concert presented next year as part of the 2013 Holiday Season at Orchestra Hall. Patrons will be seated in the same price section and will not incur any price increases or pay any additional fees. Patrons with pending reschedule dates will be contacted directly when a new date is secured.
Minnesota Orchestral Association Ticket Services Representatives will be available to assist with cancelled/rescheduled ticket accommodations via phone at 612-371-5656. To save time, ticketholders are encouraged to conducting ticketing activity online at minnesotaorchestra.org/change.
Gwen Pappas, Director of Public Relations