MN Orchestra musicians renew call for independent financial analysis

Locked out Minnesota Orchestra musicians say a Star Tribune report supports their argument for an independent financial analysis of the orchestra.

The report contends the orchestra drew deeply from its endowment in 2009 and 2010 to cover growing deficits at a time when it was requesting public money for an Orchestra Hall renovation. According to the report, it later drew less money from investments and declared a 2-point-nine million dollar deficit when it was demanding dramatic pay reductions from its musicians.

The report, based on hundreds of pages of financial information and orchestra board meeting minutes, raises questions as to whether the orchestra covered deficits with money from its endowment to both win public funding for an Orchestra Hall lobby renovation and later demand deep salary reductions from its players.

Chair of the musicians’ negotiating committee Tim Zavadil said the report illustrates the need for an independent financial analysis of the orchestra.

“In order for us to get to the bottom of where the orchestra’s finances are, we have to have an independent third party come in here, someone that is trusted by both sides that can verify where the actual true financial position is,” said Zavadil.

According to Minnesota Orchestra President Michael Henson the orchestra was responding to one of the worst recessions in American history and its decisions were geared toward inspiring confidence and preparing the orchestra for a new financial future.

“All of us, whether you’re running a for profit, or not-for-profit, have had to manage through tumultuous times, and find your own solutions as to how to maintain confidence, and at the same time facilitate change in all aspects of your organization, or in this case, the orchestra.”

The Minnesota Orchestra says it was trying to cope with loss of revenue when it borrowed from endowments and tried to cut musicians’ pay. The musicians have been locked out since October 1rst because of a contract dispute with the orchestra.