My 7-step solution to labor dispute
1) The CEO should resign.
2) The current board of directors should step down.
3) The Minnesota Orchestra musicians should select a new board, composed of smart, legally and financially astute individuals, who love classical music and care about the welfare of the musicians.
4) The new board should then select a new CEO.
5) The new management should have access to the endowment, and make very careful selections of the companies that will manage it.
6) A new organization called “The Minnesota Orchestral Society” could absorb many former board members. Its sole purpose would be to raise funds for the orchestra.
7) The conductor, together with the musicians, should decide the programs for the season. They should also define the mission of the orchestra as it was intended to be.
If some of the above can happen, many guarantors will return to supporting the orchestra with even larger contributions than in the past, as well as the thousands of people who have attended the sold-out concerts the orchestra and conductors have given us. We have been starved for classical music, and will do all we can to help this world-class orchestra survive.
Margaret Chipman, Minneapolis
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Watching the ongoing Minnesota Orchestra disaster is like watching a divorce. While you hope they both forgive and get back together, you also know which spouse has more to atone for. In this case, the board and management are the errant spouse.
Their regular letters assure the public that they want the orchestra to survive, and for the musicians to look to the future, accept reality and stop talking about the past — all the while reinforcing that the musicians are overpaid and ungrateful.
However, it is past board actions that make negotiating so difficult for the musicians. This looks more and more like a strategically timed crisis engineered to extract maximum concessions from the artists while the hall was out of commission. This follows years of apparent deficit manipulation that supported fundraising when needed.
Musicians have deep reservations about the many changes to their working conditions, deep salary cuts and the general strategy for the orchestra, and understandably, little faith in their leadership.
It’s time for the wayward spouse to apologize, stop pretending to have all the answers and bring in some impartial expertise to help ensure that the orchestra is sustainable, but not just as measured by a balance sheet.
Mike Hess, Minneapolis