Drastic Cuts for Columbus Symphony

Funny. When I came to Columbus 20 years ago, I left a job which had a 25 week season. Now I'm back to that. Full circle. Too bad my age can't rewind to such a nice youthful number!

From the New York Times Arts Beat Blog-
Columbus Symphony makes Severe Cutbacks

From the Columbus Dispatch-

Symphony musicians accept another cut in pay
Friday,  March 5, 2010 3:40 AM
By Jeffrey Sheban
To help keep the financially strapped Columbus Symphony afloat, musicians have agreed to wage concessions worth $1.1 million this year and next.
As part of a restructuring announced yesterday, the symphony also said it wants to combine administrative functions with those of the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, potentially eliminating as many as 18 symphony staff positions and saving an additional $500,000 annually.
The moves are intended to reduce expenses in the 2010-11 season to $7.5 million - down from $9 million this season - and help chip away at an estimated $500,000 deficit in the current fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31.
"It's bitter medicine that is necessary for the Columbus Symphony to turn the corner and revitalize itself," said Roland Valliere, president and chief executive officer.

Musicians voted last weekend to revise their contract, which runs through the 2010-11 season. Forty-six full-time members agreed to give up two weeks of paid vacation time this year, for a savings of $120,000, while accepting a 23 percent pay cut in the fiscal year starting Sept. 1, saving the orchestra $1 million.
"They showed us all their financials, and the orchestra was out of cash," said Douglas J. Fisher, president of the musicians union and a bassoonist with the orchestra. He called the concessions "painful but necessary."
The latest giveback reduces the annual salary of most musicians to about $35,000, down from the current $45,000 and the previous year's $55,000. Principal players can earn up to 20 percent more.
"Obviously, everyone is very upset at the prospect of these cuts," Fisher said. "But it's just what we have to do to survive this economic downturn."
For the 2010-11 season, the revised contract with musicians will eliminate three weeks of paid vacation, five weeks of contracted-service concerts with BalletMet Columbus and Opera Columbus (which don't turn a profit for the symphony), and five weeks of special-engagement concerts throughout the year.
Valliere said musicians will be allowed to negotiate directly with the ballet and opera for work accompanying performances, including The Nutcracker.
The revised contract preserves all pops and Classical Series concerts this season and next, and the outdoor Picnic With the Pops concerts in the summer.
"From the public's point of view, they'll be able to enjoy the symphony as much next year as this year," Valliere said.
Meanwhile, talks have been under way for several weeks to let CAPA handle finance, marketing, development and concert production for the orchestra. Administrators and board members from both organizations would like to reach an agreement quickly, Valliere said.
"At this important time, we are exploring ways for CAPA to leverage its resources and offer assistance to the symphony," Bill Conner, CAPA's president, said in a statement. "We all want to help (the orchestra) achieve a stable and sustainable future."
In Columbus, CAPA owns and operates the Ohio, Palace and Southern theaters, and manages the Riffe Center and Lincoln theaters. Conner was unavailable for further comment yesterday.
In recent years, CAPA has taken on administrative duties for the Franklin Park Conservatory, Contemporary American Theatre Company, Phoenix Theatre for Children and Opera Columbus.
Armed with the orchestra's latest cost-cutting plans, Valliere and board chairman Martin Inglis will be calling on corporate donors to help close the current-season budget gap, which last month reached as high as $1.5million.
Thanks mainly to individual donors, the orchestra has raised more than half of the funds needed to meet a $100,000 challenge grant put up by an anonymous supporter.
If and when the bleeding stops, Valliere will get busy implementing his vision for the orchestra's future, which includes a new music director and new revenue from podcasts, music downloads and video performances on demand.
"You can't succeed if you don't survive," he said. "The notion is to build forward from here, so we can get to the point of success."

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