Kevin Case, a Chicago arts labor attorney, said that ASO management’s demand to change such significant conditions of employment at will amounts to a clear case of union busting. “If one party is unilaterally determining the terms and conditions of employment, it defeats the whole purpose of having a collective bargaining agreement,” he said. “It makes the contract meaningless.”
After having agreed to severe cuts in pay and the size of the orchestra in 2012, musicians argue that management’s proposal will further erode the orchestra’s standing as a world class orchestra. In its nearly 70-year history, under such esteemed music directors as Robert Shaw and now Spano, the ASO has gained worldwide acclaim and recorded more than 100 albums and racked up 27 Grammy Awards in such categories as Best Classical Album and Best Orchestral Performance.
“Management doesn’t seem to want to make any sort of commitment to upholding high artistic standards,” said Jessica Oudin, a violist on the ASO Players’ Association’s negotiating committee. Oudin emphasized that the division between musicians is not just financial but philosophical. “Those entrusted with the future of the orchestra don’t seem to have a vision that would support its growth.”
News: As ASO lockout enters its second week with no end in sight, key issues come into focus | September 15, 2014 by Jenny Jarvie ArtsATL.com
The “New Low” Just Got Worse | Posted on September 16, 2014
Is it just possible that the ASO was quietly making claims to aggrieved parents that it knew would never stand up to public scrutiny?
And further, the official press release implies that the ASO musicians would not participate because the AFM asked them not to. It doesn’t, however, make any mention of the fact that the ASO management not only locked the musicians out and stopped their pay, but deactivated their security clearance to enter the building. In the ASO’s reckoning, the musicians are not even active employees. And it’s still blaming the AFM for the musicians’ lack of participation in the auditions?
All in all, a very interesting turn of events. Perhaps the ASO management would care to comment?
A Disgusting New Low | September 15, 2014
You know, over the course of the Minnesota Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera labor disputes, I’ve seen a lot of ugly things. Managements in both the disputes resorted to hard-ball tactics and inflammatory rhetoric as part of a deliberate ploy to demonize the musicians and other workers. Again and again, these arts “leaders” denigrated the very art forms that their respective organizations were built to celebrate. Sadly, such things are often par for the course in a labor dispute, especially when the stakes are high.
But nothing could prepare me for the low blow the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra inflicted today. They went after their youngest supporters.
Killing Mahler by Nickitas Demos | Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Without trying to be too melodramatic (or nerdy), I believe that’s exactly what the consequences will be for the Atlanta arts community if this highly destructive lockout is not ended as quickly as possible. It’s literally destroying our art here in the present, in the future and in the past.
If the present and future look grim, surely the past is secure, right? Not really. If management – not Robert Spano - gets to determine the size of an orchestra, it then becomes very easy to value-engineer Mahler, Bruckner, Stravinsky, Berlioz and even Tchaikovsky (among many others) right out of existence in Atlanta. Why pay all that extra money in musician fees for Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 or Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring when you can program a nice compact little Mozart symphony far more cheaply? This is not meant as a pejorative statement about Mozart, however if economics – not artistic vision – exclusively determine what can or cannot be programmed, a significant portion of our rich musical past may simply disappear.
As a composer, this disruption to the timeline is not a plot out of science fiction. It’s very real. How can one get new music performed in the present climate of uncertainty? What kind of future will there be to get new works performed if no one is left to commission new pieces? What happens when vibrant chamber ensembles where orchestra players perform vanish? Who will be left to teach the next generation? What happens to the arts eco-system when the hub is irreparably degraded? It’s also disheartening for a composer to potentially watch Mahler disappear from Atlanta. If the past can be disposed of so easily, what are the chances for a modern composer?
ASO lockout 'damaging to everybody' Posted by John Ruch @JohnRuchAtlanta on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 11:55 AM
The future looks grim for ASO’s 70th anniversary season, slated to kick off Sept. 25. Last week, the musicians came together, not to play Mozart, but to march a picket line at the Woodruff Arts Center, ASO’s parent organization. With ASO management choosing the hardball tactic of a lockout, the sides weren’t talking as of Friday, and couldn’t even agree on bringing in a federal mediator.
“It’s appalling that we are locked out for the second time in two years,” says Jessica Oudin, a viola section player who reps the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players Association in labor talks. “At this time, no further meetings are scheduled … because management has not shown a willingness to budge.”
The musicians face a loss of pay and health insurance, but if the season is cut short, that will be “damaging to everybody,” Oudin says.
WAC spokeswoman Holly Hanchey told CL she can’t comment on the ASO labor situation and couldn’t immediately provide anyone who could.
A statement on the ASO website says, “Management remains committed to keeping the dialogue going and bargaining in good faith so that we can work toward a resolution that will ensure that the music will go on. Management wants to assure a vibrant classical music community that can thrive for decades to come.”
But that dialogue isn’t ongoing - including on ASO’s Facebook page. After hundreds of mostly anti-management comments were posted, ASO disabled commenting due to what it called “hateful language, personal attacks and misinformation.”
Let There Be Transparency: 14 Seasons Of ASO/WAC 990s | September 15, 2014
by Drew McManus - Adaptistration
During the Minnesota Orchestra lockout, one of Adaptistration’s most popular articles related to that topic was when I made more than a decade of the organization’s IRS returns available for download in one handy pdf file. Typically, that info is secured under digital lock and key in my consulting resource vault but I’m already witnessing a good bit of not-so-healthy arm chair analysis based on incomplete or limited data so it is time again to dig deep and offer up the goods.
In this case, the financial document goodie bag contains fourteen (14) seasons worth of IRS 990s from the Woodruff Arts Center (WAC), the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s (ASO) parent organization; everything from the 1998-99 season through the most recently available filing from the 2011-12 season.
The “Courageous” Stand of Atlanta Symphony Management | September 13, 2014 • Bargaining Notes
I mean, come on -- when Brian Urlacher retired, the management of the Chicago Bears didn’t “open a conversation” with its coach and players about whether or not to have a new middle linebacker.
That brings us to Romanstein’s depiction of his proposal as “courageous.” Putting aside the self-aggrandizement, how can it possibly be “courageous” to propose something that is utterly self-serving? There is nothing “courageous” about choosing to run an orchestra by cutting musicians, instead of focusing on imaginative and creative ways to continue providing Atlanta audiences with a dynamic, world-class ensemble. Quite the opposite: it represents nothing but capitulation and cowardice.
- Kevin Case
Mismanagement at Atlanta Goes Right to the Top | September 12, 2014
Well. As I look out at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) lockout, I can only shake my head in wonder at how it has degenerated into a farce in just a few days. If people’s lives weren’t being horribly impacted, you might wonder if the whole thing wasn’t lifted right from Comedy Central. It’s like an episode of The Office, only set within a non-profit.
A few days ago, I posted an article detailing how disastrously the ASO was managing the situation, and more importantly the optics of the situation.
Alas, the leadership’s bumbling continues. And what really worries me is that the leaders are supposed to be experts in the area of business management—that is their whole purpose within the organization. But a series of situations have happened that raise serious questions about the leaders’ basic competence to run… anything.
Allow me to look at a pattern of mismanagement that starts at the ground level of the organization and goes right up to the top.
Orchestra’s smaller size becomes big issue | September 12, 2014 By Howard Pousner email@example.com
Management wants control; players fear impact on quality.