As committed supporters of the orchestras — quite often financially — patrons are an important factor in negotiating contracts for both players and management.
But as MPR’s Euan Kerr reports, most people are unaware that the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO are undergoing heated labor negotiations.
…Word of the orchestral contract battles had not seemed to have reached the people in Rice Park in St. Paul, even in the shadow of the SPCO’s home at the Ordway Center.
“This is the first I’ve heard of it, and I’ve gone to the orchestra,” said passerby Mike White. “My wife and I have been there usually about two and three times a year for the last few years. But I didn’t know there was an issue,”
A bevy of brightly clad teenagers also said they hadn’t heard anything.
“No. We go to a performing arts school, so we like that kind of stuff, but…” one said.
This reaction is unsurprising to public relations specialist Jon Austin, who is a veteran of many labor disputes including as company spokesman during the pilots’ strike at Northwest Airlines. The real focus of an orchestral public relations war will be on regular patrons, he said.
“The number of people whose hearts and minds they are competing for, frankly, is pretty small,” he said. “Probably could fill the Minnesota Orchestra Main Hall and maybe overflow into the lobby a little bit. But it’s a pretty small number.”