Minnesota Orchestra: State leaders must intervene

  • Article by: LAURIE GREENO and PAULA DECOSSE 
  • Updated: September 9, 2013 - 7:02 PM

Senators, legislators, the governor, the mayor, musicians and the orchestra board itself ­— you must know that our time is up.

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The renovated Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis remains closed due to labor dispute.

Photo: Claude Peck, Star Tribune

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The clock is winding down. As of today, Sept. 10, Minnesotans have just five days to salvage any semblance of their world-class Minnesota Orchestra and retain their world-renowned music director, Osmo Vänskä.

Please join our citizens group, Orchestrate Excellence, in calling upon the Minnesota Orchestral Association Board; the orchestra’s musicians, and influential leaders like U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and Minnesota legislators to do all that is in their power to bring the Orchestral Association and the musicians together immediately to negotiate an interim agreement that will end the current crisis.

This agreement should have two goals:

1) The musicians should resume playing by Sunday in order to be in shape for scheduled engagements.

2) The parties should establish a clear framework and timeline for ongoing conflict resolution and negotiations that will result in a durable, longer-term contract.

With Minnesota’s internationally recognized track record of arts and cultural leadership, we see no reason why this interim agreement cannot be achieved. To make it happen, however, Minnesota needs the engagement and leadership of its elected officials. Bring the board and musicians together now to meet face-to-face, continuously, until an interim agreement has been reached.

Steps taken over these next few days will determine whether Minnesota continues to be home to an internationally renowned orchestra or simply hosts a regional orchestra. Choosing a regional orchestra means that the state will lose its artistic presence. It also would reduce the quality of arts education for learners at all levels and shrink the economic engine that the orchestra has become, thus hurting tourism and businesses that have thrived as a result of its drawing power.

As Aspen Music Festival President and CEO Alan Fletcher articulated so eloquently during his keynote speech at the Orchestrate Excellence Community Forum on Aug. 20, “the only solution that will stick will be the one you have found for and with each other. ... [O]ne of the things that must happen is that all sides speak to each other. … To sit around a table arguing, negotiating, searching for viable solutions is to be, potentially, partners in creating a future. … I can tell you from personal experience that seemingly impossible problems can be solved, and I can hope, with you, that great music will again flourish in this great city.”

Please join us in calling on leaders of our city, state and nation, as well as on the board and among the musicians, to act now to ensure that great music will again flourish in our great city. An interim agreement must be reached no later than Sunday. There is no more time.

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Laurie Greeno, of Edina, and Paula DeCosse, of Minneapolis, are cochairs of Orchestrate Excellence.

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