Musicians to Peter Gelb: You’ll lose the city hundreds of millions of dollars

Union statement just in:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEWednesday, July 23, 2014
Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb Threatens Lockout, Cancellation of the 2014/2015 Opera Season;Orchestra Musicians Denounce Gelb’s Long-Planned Lockout as a “Cynical strategy to cover up his failed management and
lack of artistic vision

New York, NY–Wednesday, July 23, 2014Local 802, American Federation of Musicians, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra musicians are dismayed that Peter Gelb has pursued a cynical strategy calculated to result in a lockout of his artists and craftspeople and imperil the upcoming Met Opera season. His callousness, combined with his attempt to cover up his failed management and lack of artistic vision that has resulted in declining audiences and plummeting ticket sales, jeopardizes the livelihoods of his employees and the many businesses in New York City’s cultural sector and the Lincoln Center area that depend on the Metropolitan Opera for their incomes.

For months, Gelb has purposely refused to provide essential financial information that would have allowed substantive, good-faith negotiations to proceed, instead making erroneous claims in the press in the run-up to his long-planned lockout.

If the Met in fact is facing financial difficulties it is due to Peter Gelb’s lavish overspending on productions that have been poorly received by critics and audiences. At the initial negotiating session scheduled for this Friday, July 25th, the musicians plan to propose ideas that would allow the Metropolitan Opera to realize over $20 Million in cost-savings and avoid draconian cuts to its artists. That Peter Gelb would announce the prospect of a lockout before the start of negotiations with the musicians, choristers, stagehands and other segments of the workforce is indicative of his disrespect for his audience, his artists and the City of New York.

The loss to the City’s economy as a result of a lockout will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars – first, the $327 million that the Met spends on salaries, sets, costumes and on many other vendors/services will be lost; on top of that, the losses to restaurants and hotels, especially those in the immediate vicinity of Lincoln Center, will be devastating given that the Met has 3,800 seats and its audience represents a high proportion of local restaurant and hotel patronage during the opera season.

Peter Gelb should engage in good-faith negotiations with the intent of salvaging the upcoming season rather than moving to arbitrarily shut down the iconic and beloved Metropolitan Opera.

 

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  • This playbook didn’t work out the way management wanted in Minnesota, and it’s not going to work any better in New York. Of course, that lesson will come at great cost to many families.
    Maybe Gelb and Michael Henson can form their own consulting firm.

  • True all that. But I think one of the things that triggered the collapse of management in Minnesota was all the unwelcome publicity about management’s repeated bad faith in their “negotiations” (actually PR exercises) coupled with SERIOUSLY unwelcome scrutiny of their failure to live up to lease responsibilities for Orchestra Hall–which could have involved not just the loss of management’s orchestra (which they themselves locked out) but the hall they locked the musicians out of.

    I think it was pressure from larger outside political forces, along those lines (and perhaps some others that no one knows about) that finally woke management up to the damage they were doing to the community. I also think a similar dynamic has to happen here–bigger players than just a few board members have to wake the board up to the damage it’s doing. Unfortunately, lots of blood may get spilled by the time that happens.

  • Why cannot anyone see that what he has done is “Gross Misconduct” in this country the employee is dismissed immediately without warning.
    Can’t anyone in New York see this?

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