MN Orchestra cancels fall concerts, musicians rally

This morning the Minnesota Orchestra announced it has cancelled all its fall concerts through November 25.

This, after a weekend of meetings between musicians and management failed to reach a new contract settlement.

The lockout means musicians will receive no pay or benefits until a new agreement can be negotiated.

The Minnesota Orchestra’s final proposal offers an average annual salary of $89,000, as opposed to the current average salary of $135,000.

In a release, Minnesota Orchestra Association Board Chair Jon Campbell explained the cuts this way:

The Orchestral Association honored the musicians’ 2007 contract even though, in the midst of the recession, it placed unsustainable pressure on our endowment. We cannot continue on this course, and our Board is united in the belief that, in order to protect the Minnesota Orchestra for the long term, we must address our financial challenges now, rather than push them forward and allow them to multiply.

Meanwhile, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have released a video asking why management wants to silence the music, when musicians were willing to “play and talk” – in other words, continue to negotiate – and perform – while extending the current contract.

In the above video musicians state:

We didn’t build Target Field for a minor league team. If the Vikings win the Super Bowl, they don’t take a pay cut. When we built the new Walker [Art Center] we didn’t expect art of less significance. The new Guthrie wasn’t built for Minneapolis to become mediocre in theater. So why would the orchestra management raise $110 million to build for the future, but tell musicians to take a 30 – 50% pay cut? Why would they spend $50 million for a new lobby at orchestra hall?

The musicians will hold a rally today at 1pm at the corner of Nicollet Mall and 11th in downtown Minneapolis.