Friday, March 14, 2008

Shreveport Symphony management eliminates full time orchestra; board demands 75% cut in players' salaries

Michael Butterman, SSO rehearsal
Originally uploaded by trudeau
Devastating news today from the website "The management of the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra has stated they will impose a new contract on March 16, 2008 that will eliminate all full-time playing positions within the orchestra. Those musicians who have performed full-time with the orchestra, some for more than two decades, will be forced to accept a 75% cut in pay. The symphony musicians have been working over the course of the current season in a “Play and Talk”, agreeing to perform under the terms of the old contract until a new contract is negotiated. Representatives for the musicians were notified of the statement via letter.

Under management’s imposed plan, full time salaries will go from $12,693 for the 2007-08 season to a part-time salary of $3,123 for the 2008-09 season. Since 2001, the full–time musicians have lready taken pay cuts totaling 27%. Meanwhile, the orchestra has played to rave reviews and packed houses."

Surely a city on the cusp of a buzz aided by the movie biz and expansion of the cyber warfare biz can do more than this. Has the SSO board publicly addressed the issues faced by the organization?

To drop the full-time orchestra players is to lobotomize our city's artistic
life. We are talking about musicians and families who provide not just music, but educational and economic energy.

Losing the core player group means accepting a distinct slippage in the status and quality of performance of the SSO.

But we will still have a vibrant pop culture, won't we?


Anonymous said...

What a sad day in Shreveport!!!

Anonymous said...

How can we get this maddness to stop. This will have a devistating effect on the educational and artistic life of the Shreveport and Bossier areas. This will also have an ill effect on the businesses that come to the area, like the Cyber Command Center!! We must let the Symphony Board know that this must not take place. The Mayors of Shreveport and Bossier should be paying attention to what happens here. We need the high quality Shreveport Symphony that we have NOW, not a part time symphony as that will have an adverse effect on the quality of music.

Anonymous said...

Finally we have a Shreveport Symphony Board that will take on the challenge of the hard work of making this Symphony Orchestra a financially stable organization. Good for them! This community simply can not continue to pay musicians more than the community is willing to support, nor can it pay for services that are not being used. Orchestras across the country are converting to per-service musicians rather than face bankruptcy. I love the music, but not at its current price tag.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the current Symphony Board has done enough looking for funding or cleaning up wasteful spending. Is the Office staff also getting pay cuts? Let's see if they can survive on one forth of their salaries, oh but you have to figure in their starting point, which is more than double the musicians salaries. It is the musicians that make our symphony great. Take them away and your product, the music, will suffer. I suggest everyone get on the same page and figure a better way out of what ever the situation is and not make it impossible for our musicians to live. I can't imagine how hard it must be to live ono live on $12,000, there is no way in hell that anyone can live on $3,000. Well just when we are doing a better job of showing Louisiana in a good light, this happens and now we could be the first state with a professional symphony that is all on food stamps and welfare checks. This is NOT the way to treat our artists!!!!

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why people want the Symphony to go under just to protect the core musicians. The new payment schedule will pay for each performance and every musician will be on equal terms as far as being paid is concerned. People in Shreveport do not donate to the Symphony in order to keep it going. Does this mean that the city as a whole does not think it an important part of our lives? The theater is almost full every performance and even if it is full every time that isn't enough money to run the Symphony. And where would the organization be without the office personnel to run the day to day operations? Are the musicians working eight hours a day every day solely for the Symphony?

Anonymous said...

I resent the comments that the Symphony Board can do more than they have done to keep the Symphony here. At the present time the board is selling the raffle tickets to make money for the Symphony. Are the musicians doing this? Are people buying the tickets? Most board members contribute money to the Symphony in addition to supporting all the fund raising projects. Shreveport needs to wake up and contribute to the local arts organizations which enhance the quality of our lives.

Anonymous said...

Columbus, Ohio is having the EXACT same issue on a larger scale. Check out the link below for the story in yesterday's paper.

Anonymous said...

Inept management can ruin orchestras both large and small. Some orchestras have problems, while many more are doing very well. Those orchestras that have been truly involved with the oommunity do the best. Here our players are fighting just to keep a poverty level wage while the administration, and especially the executive director, are being paid many times that amount to manage an orchestra that is playing a fraction of the number of performances they were playing just a couple of years ago. That's not because of cost - that's just plain laziness. Contributions to arts organizations overall have been on the rise. The symphony refuses to raise money outside of a small group of regular contributors so its no surprise the funding is going elsewhere. And it seems to me that just a few years ago, the musicians were indeed filling positions such as box office, music director and executive director.

Anonymous said...

How embarrassing for Shreveport; just another example of the "good old boy" hiring practices vs. hiring management that is willing to work.
I am sure outside people ARE looking at this; I am also sure they are saying what backwards idiots people in North Louisiana are. To them we are not capable of grasping the importance of the arts or even culture; I think they are right. I am beginning to believe the majority of people in this area, (no matter how much money they have), are too ignorant to understand the importance of an orchestra of quality vs. a "discount" orchestra. I really want everyone to take a hard look at the previous poster who said the following, for they are a prime example of what I am saying,

"This community simply can not continue to pay musicians more than the community is willing to support, nor can it pay for services that are not being used."
"I love the music, but not at its current price tag."

(Well, you get what you pay for)

This person knows how many hours the musicians have to practice EVERY day, and how much money it takes to maintain instruments, but this person does not care. They know that many of these people and their families bring music education to children in this area; if they move, that will move, too; but they do not care about that either, because they do not understand the importance of the arts or culture, and that you should strive for QUALITY, not how much money you can keep in your pocket. They wouldn't be caught dead in clothes from K-Mart or Fred's, but they are more than satisfied with a discount orchestra; now tell me that is not ignorance!

This is the real world; you get what you pay for. My suggestion is the following....Do not waste your time, or your chump change, with part-time players and per service people; you are not willing to pay enough to attract anyone of any quality. You will get just what you are paying for; discount, not as good performances. Save yourself the trouble, honey; buy some CDs and close the doors. God knows YOU will never be able to tell the difference.

Matt said...

Two points,

1. We all know that the Boards which run these kind of program as well as most charities , waste money like it's nobody's business. I can say first hand how much they waste of trivial printing projects.

2. It's just another example of how Shreveport tries to adopt the cultural qualities of a larger city but ends up let it go to run and weather as the years pass.

Sad, sad, sad. Shame on your Shreveport.