MINNEAPOLIS - With a stalemate at the negotiating table and no prospects for a breakthrough on the horizon the Minnesota Orchestra has cancelled all concerts scheduled through the end of November.
Those performances, set for October 18 through November 25, have been scratched after talks broke down between the Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA) and its musicians. The collective bargaining agreement between the orchestra and the musicians union expired at midnight October 1.
The following shows are impacted:
- Ohlsson Plays Rachmaninoff, October 18-20
- Dvorák's Cello Concerto, October 25-27
- Mozart and Schumann, November 1-2
- Anat Cohen and Evan Christopher, November 9
- The Klezmatics, November 10
- Duke Ellington Orchestra, November 11
- Martin Fröst Plays Copland, November 15-17
- The Matrix Live, November 23-24
- Jim Brickman, November 25
All ticketholders to impacted concerts are being contacted by the Minnesota Orchestra and offered a variety of 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.
- Ticketholders may exchange their tickets now to a future concert. 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.
Despite stepped-up negotiations, contract talks between the MOA and its musicians, members of the Twin Cities Musicians' Union failed to yield a new deal. Union negotiators say the MOA's last offer included an average salary of $89,000, a reduction of 34 percent from the current average of $135,000.
The MOA says the offer does include an annual contribution by the Orchestral Association of 7.63 percent of base salary, 10 weeks paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave.
"We have great respect for our musicians' talents, and today is a difficult day," said MOA Board Chair Jon Campbell in a written release. "Our organization, however, cannot keep performing on borrowed time. 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."
In 2011, the Minnesota Orchestra says it posted a $2.9 million deficit, the largest in the Orchestra's history. The musicians' 2007 contract, which expired on October 1, included an increase of 19.2 percent to musician base salary over the life of the five-year contract.
The musicians union responded to the cancellations with disappointment and skepticism. "We remain deeply concerned about what management is hiding in their financial reports," the union said in a prepared statement. "Today we renew our call for a joint and independent financial analysis of the Orchestra's finances. We find it deeply disturbing that they would lock-out the musicians and cancel concerts rather than undergo a transparent review of the Orchestra's finances."
Union negotiators say despite multiple requests the Orchestra Management and Board have failed to provide a copy of the approved 2013 budget to the musicians. They also maintain that in September the Orchestra touted they had raised $97 million in the Building for the Futurecampaign.
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