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Bridge funding is part of new MOA offer to musicians; Chorale seeking support

Minnesota Orchestra management made a new offer to musicians
MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson
On Thursday Minnesota Orchestra management made a new offer to musicians.

Has it really been almost a year since the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra were locked out? Sadly, it has. Today is Day 362. Thursday the Minnesota Orchestra Board Negotiating Committee, chaired by Richard Davis, issued yet another contract proposal to the musicians’ union — its fourth so far. Like the first three, it landed with a thud. Later that day, the musicians issued a statement calling the offer “diminishing” and the board’s actions breaking the confidentiality of the negotiating process and taking the new offer public “offensive.” Update: On Saturday the musicians rejected the offer in a unanimous vote of 60-0.

Let’s look at the main points of the MOA’s offer, spelled out in a press release sent by the orchestra Thursday afternoon. It includes a signing bonus of $20,000 per musician, a bridge fund of nearly $1.7 million to be provided by a coalition of 15 Minnesota foundations led by the Carlson Family Foundation. The signing bonus is like a cherry on a sundae. What’s under the cherry isn’t nearly as appealing. The MOA is asking for a three-year contract during which salaries would be reduced by 25 percent through a “series of stepped concessions” (the MOA’s language). Salaries would be cut 18.6 percent in the first year, dipping down to 21.2 percent in the second year and 25 percent in the third year. (Doing the simplest of math: $100 becomes $81.40 in year one, $78.80 in year two, and $75.00 in year three.) Factoring in the signing bonus, this would result in an overall reduction of 17.7 percent in the average annual musician salary.

While 25 percent (17.7 percent, with the bonus) is better than 32 percent – the reduction called for in the first proposal, which the musicians rejected, which led to the lockout it means the musicians must agree to three consecutive years of salary cuts. It also means the Orchestra will accrue a deficit of $3.6 million over three years, which can't make the board happy. “Our aim was to eliminate our $6 million annual deficit entirely,” board chair Jon Campbell said in the press release.

We never saw the MOA’s third proposal, made Sept. 14; it was kept confidential by both sides. But a second proposal, made this summer, offered a two-year contract. The latest proposal is a three-year contract.

At this point, given the tone of the musicians’ statement, it seems unlikely that the new proposal will be accepted by noon on Monday, Sept. 30, when it expires. That also happens to be the one-year anniversary of the lockout, and the day by which music director Osmo Vänskä has said the musicians must begin rehearsing (at the latest) to be ready for Carnegie Hall concerts scheduled for Nov. 2 and 3. Vänskä also has said he would resign if those concerts are canceled. They are still on the Carnegie schedule, as are two more concerts by the Minnesota Orchestra and Vänskä in April 2014.

Earlier this month, the musicians announced a self-produced fall concert series featuring pianist Emanuel Ax. Tickets are on sale now. They are also exploring the possibility of staging the important Carnegie Hall concerts with Vänskä on their own. One way or another, the musicians will play. 

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Chorale is asking for donations. From a Facebook posting by Save Our Symphony Minnesota: “Whatever happens, the Minnesota Chorale’s work goes on. … But we can’t do it alone. The lockout has impacted us severely. We urgently need friends like you to support our mission.” The Chorale are the folks who perform with the musicians when they play “Messiah” and Mahler, Masses, requiems, and opera scores, and when Doc Severinsen comes to town for his annual “Jingle Bell Doc” concerts.

At least four recipients of the 2013 MacArthur “Genius” awards – now a no-strings $625,000 stipend, paid over five years – have brought or will soon bring their talents to Minnesota. Dancer-choreographer Kyle Abraham was at the Walker in March with “Abraham.In.Motion/Live! The Realest MC,” exploring gender, race, identity, history and expectations. Jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer performed six concerts in two days during “The Sound of Surprise,” a mini-festival held in his honor at the Walker in 2012. Pianist Jeremy Denk will play Mozart and Brahms with the SPCO on Nov. 29 and Dec. 1. Two of playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney’s plays, “In the Red and Brown Water” and “The Brothers Size,” have been seen here at the Guthrie and Pillsbury House Theater.

Every four years, the National Endowment for the Arts conducts a Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). It’s a sort of national temperature-taking of how actively (or not) Americans are engaging with the arts. An initial report of the latest survey’s findings (2012) came out yesterday, and the news is mixed. The percent of adults 18 and older who attended at least one arts performance or visited an art museum or gallery has dropped. Attendance is down most at musicals (a 9 percent plunge since 2008) and plays (12 percent, youch). Today, about one in five Americans visit art museums and galleries; 10 years ago, that number was about one in four.

On the bright side, more African-Americans and Hispanics are going to arts performances, older Americans (65 and up) are reading more books than anyone else, and more younger Americans are heading to outdoor festivals. Classical music support is holding steady, and jazz is making gains, with more African-Americans than whites attending jazz events. More than two-thirds of American adults accessed art through electronic media – TV, radio, smartphones and tablets, the Internet, and recordings. One in four adults emailed, posted, or shared photography. Really? That few? Including selfies and shelfies? Including Anthony Weiner? 

mn fash
Photo by John Whiting
Cocoon by Elizabeth Geisler

Christopher Straub of “Project Runway” fame was one of four area designers featured in Tuesday’s The Show, the first of two runway shows held at Aria during Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week. His soft street look in gray, black, and lime included sweatpants worn low and an octopus theme. Comfy, but hard to picture in Uptown outside the YWCA. Cocoon by Elizabeth Geisler presented casual wear in cream, peach and black, most pieces sleeveless and summery, and a killer, fits-like-a-glove black dress. Lisa Hackwith showed soft fabrics, soft colors and muted prints in silk, cotton and seersucker; a gray silk dress was a highlight. Samantha Rei closed out the night with feathered headdresses, full short skirts, gauzy dresses in bright colors, jumpsuits, and leather – harnesses, straps, and holsters – in the evening’s most fun and colorful collection. Developer Peter Remes’ Aria (the former Jeune Lune) was the ideal venue for this event. The cocktail hour in the lobby was its own fashion show.

Minnesota artists, presenters, and arts organizations: If you’re getting Legacy Amendment money (support through the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund), shout it from the rooftops. You’re required to acknowledge this funding in your printed materials, but the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council suggests you to do more to let Minnesotans know that their votes for the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment five years ago are giving more Minnesotans access to the arts. Suggestions from MRAC: call attention to your Legacy funding in your website, social media, curtain speeches at performances, in your newsletters and news releases. Display a sandwich-board sign outside the performance hall. And use a larger font in those printed materials. For more ideas, contact Mara Miller at mara@mrac.org.

Single tickets are on sale now to the 2013-14 Chopin Society season, and if this interests you, we suggest you get on it. Imogen Cooper (Oct. 6) has already sold out. Tickets are still available for Behzod Abduraimov (Nov. 10), Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (Feb. 16, 2014), Inon Barnatan (March 16), and the marvelous Richard Goode (May 11). All concerts are on Sundays at 3 p.m. in the intimate, newly renovated Mairs Concert Hall at Macalester College. FMI and tickets.

Our picks for the weekend

Friday at the Soap Factory: The $99 Sale. It’ll cost you to get in, but you could leave with a treasure. The Soap Factory’s annual benefit features 150 works of art, all 8" x 10", each signed by the artist – on the back. You won’t know what you have until you’ve bought it. The sale is also a see-and-be-seen party. Tickets range from $75 (first dibs, complimentary cocktails, small plates, DJs, prizes) to $10 (food truck, cash bar, Afrobeat). As artist Jonathan Borofsky famously said, “Art is for the spirit.” Here’s a way to feed yours. 6:30 p.m. – 1 a.m., 54 Second St. SE, Minneapolis. FMI and tickets.

soap factory
Photo by Dane McFarlane
The Soap Factory’s annual benefit features 150 works of art, all 8" x 10", each signed by the artist – on the back.

Saturday at MCAD: Full Fashion Panic. More fashion show, please. Part of the scrumptuously titled academic conference "Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits: Culture and Creation in Manga and Anime" (SGMS), this runway show is a visual exploration of the connections between anime/manga/pop culture and fashion. Think Japanese street fashion. Designers include Madkitsune Designs and Punkktual. 7 p.m., 2100 Stevens Ave., Minneapolis. FMI and tickets.

prism
Photo by Uli Gruber
Dave Holland’s Prism, from left to right: Craig Taborn, Dave Holland, Kevin Eubanks, Eric Harland

Saturday and Sunday at the Dakota: Dave Holland’s Prism. For the second year in a row, we’re asking members of Theoroi, the group of “arts ambassadors” ages 21-35 sponsored by the Schubert Club, to preview events they’re attending and tell us what they think. Here’s what Deb Ervin says about Prism: “As a sucker for rock-and-roll, I like my music plugged-in. The quartet Prism provides just that. A quick listen to the self-titled new album (preview tracks are on Holland’s website) gives even novice jazz listeners (such as myself) reason to attend. This is jazz at its most accessible – energetic and electric. Eager for more information on Holland, I reached out to one of my music gurus, Doan Brian Roessler (of the Fantastic Merlins). Brian said that in addition to being a rock star on the double bass, Holland has been hugely influential to the course of jazz. A glance at his bio will not only confirm this but blow your mind. Holland has won two Grammy awards and has collaborated with the likes of Miles Davis, Bill Frisell and Thelonious Monk. If you’re familiar with his work, you probably already have tickets. If you’re new to jazz, you won’t want to miss this.” Holland’s brand-new band includes Kevin Eubanks on guitar, Golden Valley’s Craig Taborn on keys, and Eric Harland on drums. (P.S. We saw Prism last week in an open-air arena seating thousands and can’t wait to hear how they’ll squeeze their big sound and energy into a room the size of the Dakota.) 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. FMI and tickets ($40-$24).

Friday through Sunday at the Jungle Theater: “Fool for Love.” Every word matters in Sam Shepard’s compact, powerful play, and many will singe your eyebrows. Just an hour long, with no intermission, it covers a lot of ground: sex, love, forbidden love, lust, lies, awful truths (or are they?), longing, innocence, experience, and human weaknesses of all kinds. As Eddie, Terry Hempleman is testosterone and menace. As May, Jennifer Blagen is a lithe, sensual firecracker with a short fuse. Doors don’t just shut, they boom like thunder, as does the slam of a fist on a wall. This is the way to see one of our most famous American plays: exactly as Shepard wrote it, faithfully and precisely brought to the stage by Bain Boelke, framed in red neon. As Shepard specified, “Fool for Love” is performed “relentlessly without a break.” 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday evening, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis. Through Oct. 20. FMI and tickets.

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Comments (1)

Why would the MOA make a "serious" offer through the media?

If they had any hope the musicians would take it seriously, management would have respected confidentiality.
I do wish the MOA would stop misusing the term "average" - does that term give you any useful information about, say the "average" salary of US Bank employees (when CEO Richard Davis is figured in at 16 million)?