This is not one of the majors, but it’s a 70-year old orchestra in a civilised part of the US, not far from Yale with its zillion dollar endowments. It should not have to reduce musicians to the breadline. Here’s what’s up, from the musicians’ side (h/t Joe Goetz).
(HARTFORD, Conn. – June 18, 2015) – In a meeting of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra Board on Wednesday, musician board representatives voted unanimously against the proposed budget and strategic plan for the coming season.
The Hartford Symphony Board includes ten musician board representatives out of nearly 50 board members. The musicians’ contract is currently under negotiation, and their concerns stem from a budget that reflects little consideration for their wages and working conditions. In 2014-15, Core musicians earned a little over $23,000. In 2015-16, these musicians are being asked to accept under $15,000 a year, a figure that represents a 40% reduction in wages.
According to federal poverty guidelines, a family of four needs to earn at least $24,250 to stay out of poverty. And a recent U.S. Department of Labor report found the average wage in Hartford County to be $64,792, more than four times what is being offered to the musicians.
“One does not grow the Hartford Symphony by cutting the Hartford Symphony,” said violinist and board member Michael Pollard. “At the same time that musicians’ wages are being cut, wages and expenditures for management and conductors have increased dramatically.”
“Spending commitments are being made,” continued Pollard. “The Music Director has been signed to a 6 year contract and hiring of an Assistant Conductor is underway. Salaries and benefits for administrative staff have increased. On the other hand, pay for musicians has been frozen for 3 years. And now we are asked to accept changes in work rules that will prevent us from combining HSO employment with the other jobs we must pursue in order to supplement our poverty-level wages.”
The musicians were outvoted in the meeting, and both the budget and the strategic plan were approved.
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The Connecticut Valley Federation of Musicians, Local 400 of the American Federation of Musicians, represents approximately 600 professional musicians in central Connecticut
pictured: music director Carolyn Kuan