Another major orchestra feels the pain; deep cuts proposed for Detroit Symphony
Of course, the city of Detroit has been in trouble for a long time, so a lot of folks have wondered how the resident orchestra could maintain its position for the long haul. Musicians' salaries have been among the top in the country -- base pay of $95,000, almost $21,000 more than at the BSO. Leonard Slatkin is music director of the DSO.
Negotiations for a new contract in Detroit are going on, and not terribly well, judging by a press release from the players' side. (Similarities with the BSO's situation will easily be spotted -- and I'm sure it's only coincidental that the e-business that sent out the Detroit Symphony Musicians release is located in Baltimore.) The other side is sure to be heard from, but, for now, here are some highlights of the DSO musicians' release:
Salary cuts upwards of 28 percent, drastic cuts in their health insurance, elimination of contributions to their retirement benefits, and a sharp reduction in the size of the orchestra - those are key provisions of management's demands from the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as contract negotiations continue.
The musicians believe that this may be the beginning of a trend that will see managers of other symphony orchestras make similar demands from their musicians.
According to DSO cellist Haden McKay, one of the musicians' negotiators, the demands by management, in addition to imposing drastic cuts in salary and benefits, would drop the DSO out of the top ten, the majors, in the ranking of American symphony orchestras, with no opportunity to reclaim its position.
"The fall from the top ten would make it that much more difficult to attract internationally famous guest conductors and artists, as well as the best musicians," he said ...
"...a number of DSO musicians have already started to audition for open positions in other major orchestras. We've lost six musicians in the past two years alone ... [This] acclaimed orchestra has been reduced from 95 onstage musicians in 2001 to 84 currently, with further reductions called for by management. The continued use of substitutes places at risk the sense of ensemble and the tradition of sound and style that distinguish premier orchestras. However, management appears to believe that audiences won't perceive the difference ... [After] our making $3.4 million in concessions to 'save' the orchestra the past two contracts, once again, the musicians of the DSO are being asked to swallow still more severe cuts in salary and benefits to, once more, 'save' the orchestra."
...The musicians placed on the table a proposal agreeing to more than $9 million in cuts in salary and benefits, including cuts of 22 percent in next year's annual scale, 14 percent in 2012, and eight percent in 2013. "The musicians' proposal was rejected and management flatly refuses to negotiate when we meet," McKay said.
PRESS RELEASE 7/29/2010