Monthly Archives: February 2013

The MOA Can Afford to Play and Talk

On the heels of this article, Losses Mounting As Orchestra Lockout Enters Fifth Month, in which we hear yet again how the lockout is wreaking economic havoc, I got to thinking.

In April 2012, the Minnesota Orchestral Association put forth a contract proposal to its musicians. They said the average total compensation per musician (including insurance, etc.) would be $119,000 a year, or $9916 a month. (That number could definitely be disputed, but let’s just take it at face value for now.) According to the musicians’ website, there are 80 musicians in the Minnesota Orchestra not on leave (and with the imminent departure of Pitnarry Shin, it will be 79). That means the MOA acknowledged it could afford to spend $7,139,520 on musician expenses during the nine months of the October 2012 to June 2013 season.

Five months have now passed. Obviously the MOA has paid the musicians nothing during that time, so they should still have that $7,139,520 available to spend on musician compensation this season. Correct?

The MOA says that the average musician received $170,000 in total compensation in 2012, or $14,166 per month. (Once again, I know this number is disputed, but stick with me.) That means every four months the MOA paid out $56,664 in salary and benefits to each of the 80 musicians, resulting in an expense every four months of $4,533,120. At the very most.

To sum: they should have $7,139,520 on hand to spend on musicians. To pay the musicians at their old levels of compensation for four months would cost them, at the very most, $4,533,120. And I wouldn’t be surprised if musicians would be happy to have guaranteed work at levels slightly lower than their 2012 rates as the negotiations continue (although, of course, it would be up to them what rate they would ultimately accept).

Therefore…

There is no financial reason why the MOA can’t play and talk through June.

Ideological? Yes. Practical? No.

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Some Dorky Musings on Endowment Sizes And Base Salaries

I worked up some charts yesterday, both to gain insight into the Minnesota Orchestral Association’s math, and to prove (once again) that I am a massive nerd with absolutely no life whatsoever. I used numbers gleaned from Wikipedia’s list of the population of American metro areas, this list the Strib published of orchestra base salaries, and a chart the Minnesota musicians made about other orchestras’ endowment sizes.

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Help Michael Henson Win An Award!

Michael Henson is up for an award…and you can help him win it!

Yes, careful cautious neutral even-keeled uber-professional blog Adaptistration is having a “Most Bush-League CEO” contest…and guess who’s the current front-runner to win?

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Minnesota Orchestral Association Scam Alert, Part 2

Ever since my Minnesota Orchestral Association Scam Alert entry, I’ve been hearing from more and more people who have been getting phone-calls from the Minnesota Orchestral Association rife with misleading statements and/or outright lies. The latest statistic I’ve heard from a reader is that MOA management has taken a forty percent pay cut. I have no idea if this is true or not, but it contradicts what has been said on the MOA’s website, as well as what Mr. Henson said in his recent MPR interview and in his testimony before state legislators...not to mention the information that’s available in the 1998-2011 990s.

To any individuals who have been receiving calls from 612-373-9236 (aka “THE FUTURE”), and feel you were misled and/or lied to, I ask that you please contact the Better Business Bureau and the State Attorney General’s office. (Although I think the State Attorney General’s office might be more effective…)

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I Answer Some Questions for Michael Henson

On 12 February, Minnesota Orchestra CEO Michael Henson testified before the Legacy Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives. About 75% of his testimony was word-for-word identical to the one he gave at the 23 January hearing of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee on the effects of lockouts, so I’d like to mention I discussed that January testimony in-depth in this two-part essay, if you’re interested in reading that.

Henson’s January performance was by no means strong, but his February performance was disastrous. As soon as he was asked to answer questions off-the-cuff, he had great difficulty expressing himself. There was incredulous giggling in the audience, as well as spontaneous applause when Rep. Alice Hausman expressed her concerns. Several legislators were clearly unsatisfied by the answers that Mr. Henson gave, saying things such as “That doesn’t answer my question” and “so you’re not sure.” So I wanted to review the questions that were asked, remind everyone exactly what Mr. Henson said, and then discuss why certain of his answers were so problematic…and, when I can, answer the questions more fully.

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Michael Henson on a Call In Program (!) (!) (!)

I was just about to fall asleep when I jolted wide wide awake with the realization:

I DIDN’T BLOG ABOUT THE MPR CALL-IN PROGRAM YET! I only mentioned it on my Facebook page! Argh! I’m dropping the ball! *wink*

So here’s the deal… Courtesy of the musicians’ Facebook page

Minnesota Orchestra Principal Cellist and Negotiating Committee member, Tony Ross, and CEO Michael Henson will be guests on MPR’s The Daily Circuit tomorrow, Friday the 15th, at 11AM to discuss the lockout with host Tom Weber. Please tune in and call in with your questions!

You can listen online by tuning into MPRnews.org.

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Transcription of Feb 12 Hearing, Part 5

And here’s a rather fascinating coda to what went on after the main body of the testimony… Mr. Henson was actually called back from the audience to answer a few questions from lawmakers. This concluding portion of the hearing can be heard starting at approximately 1:35:00 in this mp3.

Rep. Phyllis Kahn was the chair. Other representatives who spoke include Anna Wills (R), Jean Wagenius, John Ward (DFL), Leon Lillie (DFL), Dean Urdahl (R), and Mike Freiberg (DFL). This meeting occurred on 12 February 2013 in front of the Legacy Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives.

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PK: Thank you, all. Are there any quick questions for Committee members? And again, we’ll…Rep. Wills…again, we will be continuing this discussion; I don’t want to stop it here, but…

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Transcription of Feb 12 Hearing, Part 4

Part 4 of the February 12 hearing…

Other websites have posted a transcription of the next portion of the hearing, so I won’t bother transcribing that myself…

Here is SPCO bassoonist Carole Mason Smith’s testimony over at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians’ website.

Here is Save Our SPCO chair Mariellen Jacobson’s testimony at SOSPCO’s website.

Both well worth reading! Fabulous job, ladies.

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Transcription of Feb 12 Hearing, Part 3

Here is Orchestrate Excellence’s testimony from the February 12 hearing before the Minnesota House of Representatives Legacy Committee. Orchestrate Excellence’s portion begins at roughly 1:15:30 into this mp3. The committee was chaired by Phyllis Kahn. The representatives from Orchestrate Excellence were Paula DeCosse and Laurie Greeno.

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PK: Next up, Paula DeCosse, the co-chair of Orchestrate Excellence. Is that person here? Okay, yes. Paula de Cosse and -

LG: Laurie Greeno, the other co-chair of Orchestrate Excellence.

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Transcription of Feb 12 Hearing, Part 2

Several Minnesota Orchestra musicians – Cathy Schubilske, Tony Ross, and Doug Wright – testified in front of the Legacy Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives in a hearing on February 12. The chair of the committee was Rep. Phyllis Kahn. Other representatives who spoke in this portion of the hearing include Rep. John Ward (DFL) and Rep. Joe McDonald (R).

You can listen to their testimony in this mp3. Their portion begins at roughly 1:02:00.

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PK: The next person on our list is, um, Cathy Schubilske. I apologize if I mis-pronounce words. Cathy Schubilske the violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra and some musicians from the Orchestra. And each of you should say your name for the tape and identify yourselves.

DW: I’m Douglas Wright; I’m the principal trombonist of the Orchestra and I’ve been in the Orchestra for eighteen years.

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