Today's Dispatch editorial is nothing short of blatant propaganda. The motivation for such deceptive rhetoric may never be known. But the article betrays a caustic intent to destroy the Columbus Symphony and replace it with cheap, low quality players. I will attempt to interpret the hidden truth behind the propaganda.
Throughout the article, the use of the word "union" instead of "musicians elected representatives" attempts to con the public into believing our union controls us and inflicts their own twisted agenda. Nothing could be more false.
The Columbus Symphony Orchestra is at a crossroads that will determine whether it continues or folds. The outcome is in the hands of the musicians union.
The second sentence is an outright lie. The outcome is entirely in the hands of the board, which has refused to negotiate a fair contract with the musicians or with the help of a mediator.
If its members continue to ignore financial reality, the symphony will fold, probably as of June 1.
The board and management's intentional sabotage of the institution for the past three years has resulted in the present crisis. They are to blame if the Symphony folds.
Over the years, musicians negotiated for wages and benefits that now far exceed the resources available to the symphony's board of trustees. Operating deficits have been sizable for at least four years, growing to a record $2.3 million for the 2006-07 season. For next year, projections show the symphony with a $3 million shortfall in its $12.5 million budget.
The musicians have negotiated fair contracts which barely exceed inflation. We took pay cuts 3 years ago. Operating deficits are normal for arts organizations. Lack of effective planning caused increasing deficits.
The board understands that this can't continue and has adopted a fiscally responsible plan to provide long-term viability.
The orchestra's revenues come from ticket sales and the generosity of donors. The board has determined that the symphony can pay its bills only by living within a $9.5 million annual budget.
The boards failures can be satisfactorily assuaged by gutting the musician's salaries.
To reduce spending by that much, it has made two proposals to the musicians. One would reduce the number of musicians and the length of the performance season. The other would retain all musicians, but at significantly lower salaries.
Two financially identical and equally unacceptable proposals in effect covered the minimum legal requirement to be able to claim to have "negotiated".
The union has rejected both proposals and offered no meaningful alternative.
The MUSICIANS rejected two identically insulting and unlivable wage and/or job cuts and offered a half million dollar pay cut to begin talks.
The union disingenuously accuses the board of being derelict in its duty to seek out more donations, but the board is realistic in its estimates of what the symphony can expect from its benefactors. If anything, the refusal of musicians to recognize financial reality discourages donations because it undermines the confidence of current and prospective donors that the symphony is a sound investment.
The word disingenuously means "lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity; falsely or hypocritically ingenuous; insincere". Perhaps the editors need a good dictionary. The musicians have sincerely attempted to communicate, with frankness and candor, the dismal failure of the current board and management to effectively run the organization. But Pravda (read Dispatch) filtered out any truth of substance to avoid confusing the public.
The musicians should stop focusing on blame and start dealing with the facts. Business as it has been conducted in the past no longer is an option.
Read: The musicians should stop nagging the city about the truth of the situation and just play good doggy and beg for the bone. The board's catastrophic failures are well protected by the Pravda (Dispatch) of the Politburo (the partnership of rich and powerful) of Columbus.
Though many lovers of symphonic music see cultural doom if the symphony folds, the loss would not necessarily mean the end of orchestral music in Columbus.
There is a passionate local audience for the art form, and the symphony board and civic leaders will look for other ways to satisfy the demand. The music need not die.
Condescension drips from those words. Fear not, Columbus, your fearless and tireless elite will not fail you. You are too stupid to know quality when you see it. We will give you what we deem is acceptable.
Whether this becomes necessary is up to the musicians. If they continue to dig in their heels, they will have no one but themselves to blame when the symphony is no more.
Yes, stupid Columbus, we tell you what the truth is and you eat it up.
Nasty, dirty union musicians just don't get it!