Photo by Anthony Souffle. The Minnesota Orchestra last performed in March to an empty hall.

Musicians in the Minnesota Orchestra are taking a temporary, 20% pay cut amid a pandemic that shortened their season and nixed their summer tour.

Other fulltime employees will take cuts, too. The orchestra's two highest paid employees -- Music Director Osmo Vänskä and President and CEO Michelle Miller Burns -- will temporarily reduce their salaries by 30%.

The reductions, announced Wednesday, will save the nonprofit more than $500,000, a spokesperson said. They take effect at the end of June.

"Musicians realize that temporary cuts like this are absolutely essential to our long-term survival," said Tim Zavadil, chair of the musicians' negotiating committee, by phone. "It's something everyone understands needs to happen in such an unprecedented time."

In a press release, CEO Burns credited funding through the federal Paycheck Protection Program for allowing the organization to "fully compensate full-time musician and staff employees for a period of time."

“Taking care of orchestra employees as best we can is our priority in the pandemic," she said.

Even before COVID-19 hit, the Minnesota Orchestra was in the red. The orchestra posted an operating deficit of $8.8 million for fiscal year 2019 — the biggest in its history. 

The orchestra last performed on March 13 for radio broadcast to a nearly empty hall. Since then, musicians have done dozens of at-home performances. The Minnesota Orchestra is next scheduled to play in early August during a trio of outdoor concerts.

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