Met orchestra musicians attack Gelb’s ‘failed financial stewardship’

Met orchestra musicians attack Gelb’s ‘failed financial stewardship’


norman lebrecht

June 19, 2014

The musicians, who are resisting a proposed 16 percent pay cut, have released a detailed statement analysing the company’s performance. The crucial paragraph is this:

In 2005-06, Joe Volpe’s last season, the budget was $221.6 million. The Met’s expenditures for 2012-2013 were $326.8 million, an increase of over $105 million. According to the Met’s financial statements, for which we have received only the years between 2006 and 2013,

– New Productions increased from $7.6 million to $21.8 million (the high was $24.3 million in 2012), a 220% increase.

– Production equipment increased from $5 million to $15.1 million, a 202% increase;

– trucking and storage increased from $1.6 million to $3.7 million, a 131% increase;

– and finally, “other” increased from $2.7 to $8.7 million, a 222% increase.

A similar analysis between seasons 2003-04 and 2011-12 reveals that spending on Performances actually decreased from 72% to 61% of the overall budget, while spending on Media, New Productions, and “Other” grew dramatically. The lack of return on this sizable investment points to failed financial stewardship.

What they’re saying that, under Gelb, the Met gives fewer performances and spends 50 per cent more money. How is that possible?

met seats




  • Nick says:

    In a word – incompetence! In six words – incompetence on a grand operatic scale!

  • Stephanie says:

    Your analysis in the last paragraph doesn’t match the info you quote from the musicians’ statement. The Met, according to this info (I haven’t done any analysis myself), is not presenting fewer productions. Spending on performances has decreased as a percentage of budget. You can increase total dollars spent and yet have that decrease in percentage of budget if you increase your overall budget by a larger percentage. Not surprising that the performance budget line has decreased IN PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL BUDGET (not actual dollars) given the dramatic increase in the overall budget. The musicians are arguing that Gelb is directing resources to efforts that don’t result in maximum revenue.