One of the last vestiges of the Minnesota Orchestra contract dispute of 2012-14 has been resolved. The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, a nonprofit organization formed by players who were locked out for 16 months, has been dissolved and its funds have been given to the Orchestral Association.
The $250,000 gift was reported Wednesday, the same day that the orchestra reported its fiscal 2015 results.
“The 2014-15 season was a year of coming together for the Minnesota Orchestra and this is exemplified by the musicians’ announcement today,” said board Chairman Warren Mack in a prepared statement. “Their gift … reflects the valuable leadership role musicians now play.”
The money, which establishes a separate fund and was not included in the 2015 results, came from self-produced concerts and donations that the musicians received during the lockout. Given to the association in memory of orchestra advocate Lee Henderson, the gift will support education and community programming. Henderson was a leading moderate voice who sought solutions during the lockout. He died last May, shortly before the orchestra embarked on a trip to Cuba. Associate principal flute Greg Milliren called Henderson’s leadership “crucial in helping the orchestra get back to its feet following the lockout.”
Kate Nettleman, the acting associate principal bass who was president of the musicians’ group, said the gift is “a powerful symbol of how, together with the wonderful orchestra staff and board of directors, we are working in a truly collaborative organization.”
The Cuba trip — which gathered musicians, board members, donors and staff together — was the historic and artistic highlight of a year that marked a return to a balanced budget. The orchestra reported Wednesday a slim surplus of $15,000 on expenses of just more than $31 million. That compares with a deficit of $650,000 the previous fiscal year — a season that was shortened to seven months by the labor dispute.
Fundraising played the largest role in the success. Total contributions — which include donations, special events, trust distributions and gifts released from restrictions — were $18.1 million, compared with $10.5 million the previous year. Earned income was $8.5 million. Significantly, said treasurer Martin Lueck, income from rentals and concessions continues to outpace expectations in the newly remodeled Orchestra Hall by nearly $200,000.
The organization drew $4.5 million from its investments to help balance the books.
Total investments fell to $141 million from $164 million, the result of a decision to retire long-term debt of $9.3 million as well as poor market performance in the first half of the calendar year.
Artistically, the orchestra and music director Osmo Vänskä relaunched their recordings of the Sibelius symphonies and added five musicians. Kevin Smith was named president and CEO last November and the musicians and Vänskä both signed contract extensions that will secure them for several years.