The musicians have been out on the picket line today in Atlanta, Georgia, boosted by free coffee and doughnuts from members of the public.
Behind the scenes, the ASO and its president ‘Dr Stanley E. Romanstein, PhD’ are digging in for a protracted lockout. Romanstein needs the stoppage to last a long time because he’ll never get another job in music once it’s over. And here’s one reason why.
The violinist Emily E. Hogstad, who provided brilliant insights into the Minnesota dispute in its time, has been reading the balance sheets of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. What she has come up with is a couple of nuggets of pure gold (you might use an earthier noun when you’ve read her discoveries here).
Emily reports that two years ago – the last time ‘Dr’ Romanstein ransacked the musicians’ pay packets and threatened their jobs, the president was awarded a $45,000 bonus by a grateful board. That is money you might think would have been better spent building a stronger orchestra. You might think that; we couldn’t possibly comment.
But Romanstein’s reward is Jimmy Carter peanuts when set beside the annual bonus paid to his predecessor, Alison Vulgamore – a bonus of $169,101 on top of her annual salary, bringing her total take-home to $600,000.
And this was paid to her at a time the orchestra was running a deficit the size of a small oil well.
Alison hightailed it soon after to Philadelphia, leaving behind a black hole and a grim tradition of giving undeserved rewards to failed executives. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is in a helluva mess. None of it is the fault of the musicians, who are being made to pay.
And there’s no sign the ridiculous ‘doctor’ plans to take any of his own medicine in cuts and sutures.