How the Met’s finances will be run in future
August 23, 2014 by norman lebrecht
Here’s how the Met musicians, in a statement today, see the future financial control of the house, with the manager Peter Gelb dependent on the approval of an external scrutineer.
Throughout these contentious negotiations, a clear question emerged: What has been driving increased costs? We have maintained that a sustainable future for the Met must be based on cost-saving measures beyond simply cutting employee compensation. Our data-driven approach was substantiated by numbers directly from the Met, and the independent financial analyst, Eugene Keilin, ultimately agreed with our assertion that the Met could best realize major savings through more efficient spending. Moreover, as part of the settlement, the Met’s finances will be subject to unprecedented oversight, with powerful new mechanisms put in place for enforcement and accountability. The contract calls for an “Efficiency Task Force” between artists, management, and the board, which will have direct input on spending practices. Mr. Keilin will continue as a contractually-mandated partner working directly with this task force to trim unnecessary costs, ensuring that the Met can be run more effectively.
We hope our unique system for financial oversight will be a model for other organizations, and will give all stakeholders the means to ensure that the past practices that led us to this brink will not be repeated, here or anywhere else. Critically, the deal accomplishes all of this while preserving the artistic core of the house. The orchestra’s base compensation rate remains untouched and will see an increase in the 4th year. Instead, cuts in compensation will primarily be felt through the reduction of a fixed payment. Met administration will see matching cuts, beyond which management is contractually obligated to cut another $11.25M annually. This arrangement reflects the “Equality of Sacrifice” provision of our pending contract; we are all tightening our belts because it is in everyone’s best interest to see the Met prosper in the coming years.
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