Forty-two percent of the Minnesota State Legislature wants a state audit of the Minnesota Orchestral Association.
Here’s the full letter from the legislators…
Forty-two percent of the Minnesota State Legislature wants a state audit of the Minnesota Orchestral Association.
Here’s the full letter from the legislators…
Awareness of the Minnesota Orchestra lockout grows daily. However, if you’re just tuning in, I imagine it’s tough to know where to start. So to make things easier, I tagged some entries “merge lane.” These are entries that don’t require any background knowledge about what’s been going on. Pick a few merge lane entries to read, and soon you’ll be up to speed!
However, if you prefer to tackle things chronologically, I do keep an extensive “table of contents” here. And you can always explore topics using the tags in the right-hand column of the blog.
For this particular “merge lane” entry, I gathered 25 quotes that contradict the narrative Minnesota Orchestra CEO Michael Henson has been selling the last couple of years…in other words,”What Michael Henson Doesn’t Want You To Read.” Enjoy!
An orchestra does not recover easily, from such drastic cuts, if ever. – former Minnesota Orchestra music directors Edo de Waart, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Neville Marriner, Star Tribune editorial, 6 October 2012
While we await news from St. Paul…
Here’s a link to the PDF presentation that Save Our SPCO gave to St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Interim CEO Dobson West and various SPCO board members yesterday. I don’t really have much to say about it besides it’s absolutely fabulous, and I hope that eventually Minnesota management will agree to a similar kind of meeting with Orchestrate Excellence.
This should be a watershed moment in both these conflicts. Are Dobson West and Michael Henson more interested in actual problem-solving…or pouring gas onto the fires of their own ideologies? For too long, too many of us have feared they’re really more interested in the latter. But their responses to these passionate well-educated audience advocacy groups should let us know for certain.
I’m a contributor to Minnesota Public Radio now!
So – yeah! A big thanks to everyone at MPR who helped to make this happen. It’s an exciting opportunity, and I’m grateful for it.
If you feel moved to, please share my article via the social network of your choice. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, email, or printing it out and actually sharing it with someone when you speak to them face to face.
And if you want to get news and links like this RIGHT AS THEY HAPPEN, feel free to like SOTL on Facebook.
And Mr. Henson, or Mr. Campbell, or Mr. Davis…any time you want to contact me, feel free… We’re waiting… *checks watch* *smiles politely*
Once again, I reiterate: I am not a scary individual. I am ninety pounds, 5’5″, and disabled. You would win in a fight. What are you afraid of?
Here’s an article called “Nonprofit Accountability and Ethics: Rotting From the Head Down,” by Woods Bowman. I’ve heard snippets here and there since it was posted in October but didn’t actually sit down to read the whole thing until yesterday. This was a mistake on my part. Go read it now – go, go, go.
Here are selected passages and my reactions.
The article starts off:
Arguably, the public holds nonprofits to higher ethical standards than government or businesses. Over 25 percent of Americans report having “a lot” of confidence in charitable organizations compared to 9 percent for government and 7 percent for major corporations,1 but do nonprofits deserve that confidence?
Was not expecting this…
Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minnesota Orchestra benefactor Judy Dayton today invited the public to a community celebration that they are hosting on Friday evening, February 1 to mark the Minnesota Orchestra’s nomination for a Grammy Award. The celebration will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
The Minnesota Orchestra has been nominated for Best Orchestral Performance at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards for its recording of Jean Sibelius’ Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5, conducted by Osmo Vänskä and released by the Swedish label BIS Records. The winner in the category will be announced on February 10.
Mayor Rybak and Ms. Dayton invited Minnesota Orchestra musicians and Music Director Osmo Vänskä to perform these nominated works at the February 1 community celebration. If the musicians and Music Director Vänskä accept the invitation, ticketing information will be announced to the public soon thereafter.
“The difficult labor dispute has taken its toll, but for this one night, we ask everyone to set negotiations aside and come together as a community to celebrate the Orchestra’s extraordinary achievement and listen to their beautiful, Grammy-worthy performance,” Mayor Rybak said.
“The Minnesota Orchestra is one of our premier civic treasures,” said Ms. Dayton. “We must not miss the opportunity to honor their nomination for this prestigious award, regardless of the circumstances.”
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Judy Dayton, a longtime arts benefactor, are hoping that both sides in the Minnesota Orchestra labor dispute will set down their arms for one night and celebrate the ensemble’s Grammy nomination.
Rybak and Dayton have invited the players and music director Osmo Vanska to perform the Sibelius Symphonies No. 2 and 5 on Feb. 1 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The orchestra’s recording of those two pieces have been nominated for Best Orchestral Performance. The Grammy winner will be announced Feb. 10.“We are obviously in a complicated labor issue right now,” Rybak said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “But it would be a tragedy in my mind if the dispute prevented this community from celebrating the fact that we have an institution that is up for a Grammy.” …
The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra are honored to be invited by Mayor R.T. Rybak and Orchestra benefactor Judy Dayton to perform at a Grammy celebration concert on February 1st, 2013.
The Musicians recognize the significance this Grammy nomination holds for our community and the Orchestra’s reputation, as well as the importance of joining Osmo in performing these Sibelius works for our audience.
“This is a tremendous gesture by the Mayor and Ms. Dayton,” Principal Trombonist Doug Wright said. “It will be the Musicians’ distinct honor to accept their invitation and join our Music Director on stage for a performance of these Grammy-nominated works for our community. It should be a concert to remember.”
Will you be there?
You could go to this.
Many patrons, like Emily Hogstad, were left wondering how it will all play out.
“I have no idea yet,” she said. “I think it is way too early for anybody to know, as crazy as that sounds because it’s been going on for a while.”
Hogstad writes The Song of the Lark, a detailed and deeply researched blog that has explored the intricacies of the Minnesota Orchestra dispute. She supports the musicians’ cause and is frustrated by the lack of progress.
“I think if there are changes, they are happening behind the scenes,” Hogstad said, “and we have to do all we can to pressure those who we disagree with to maybe come around to our point of view.”
Hop down a couple of paragraphs and we hear from Michael Henson…
In Minneapolis, Minnesota Orchestra President Michael Henson agreed that the issues will take time to resolve. Musicians have not made a counteroffer to a contract proposal first put on the table in April.
When asked directly if his negotiating team might make a new offer to break the logjam, he said: “We’ll continue to evaluate the most appropriate solutions to find a resolution to this.”
However, he returned time and again to the board’s belief that the orchestra needs to reduce its annual budget to $26 million in order to survive.
So helloooooo, Michael Henson! Any time you want to stop pretending you don’t know who I am, feel free! I promise not to hold your silence against you. All I want is to hear from you and have you answer a few questions. That’s all. I promise.
Maybe if I greet you with some British GIFs gleaned from the Internet, you’d be more likely to return my greeting…? Well, it’s worth a shot. Here goes.
Well. When it rains, it pours.
On December 21st, the MOA sent a six-page letter to the state representatives who contacted them on December 6th, asking the MOA for information about their finances. The first page of the reply consists of addresses; the second and third, standard boilerplate taken verbatim from the MOA’s website. I’m not going to bother rebutting the boilerplate here, because I’ve already done so in previous entries, but if anyone from the government is reading this and wants an informed outsider’s perspective about the letter, please contact me at the following email address: songofthelarkblog[at]gmail[dot]com. I will gladly explain to you sentence-by-sentence how and why this letter is misleading. It only tells part of the story, and as lawmakers, I think you deserve to hear a broader perspective. I’ve been covering this story since late August, and I’d be delighted to help you gain that broader perspective, and answer any questions you may have.
The fourth page of the MOA’s letter starts getting more specific…so let’s start our analysis there.
In your December 6th correspondence, you make the following specific requests of the Orchestra:
a. Provide the musicians the current financial documents that they have repeatedly requested.
The Orchestral Association has been transparent with its financial information. Since this negotiation began in April, the Orchestral Association has shared over 1200 pages of information, including the following:
- Audited Financial Statements (2011 and 2012) (The 2012 Audited Financial Statement was released on December 6, the date on which the Board approved it);
- Monthly Finance Committee Meeting Minutes (2009 through 2012);
- Monthly Financial Updates to the Board of Directors and Committees (2009-2012);
- Profit and Loss Reports;
- Contribution Reports (2009-2012);
- Building for the Future Reports (2009-2012);
- Investment Policies and Objectives;
- Information Related to the annual draw from the endowment for fiscal years 2010-2013; and
- Actuarial Report for the defined benefit pension plan
Looks impressive…at first glance. The only problem? These are not the financial documents that the musicians have requested. According to the musicians, this is what they want:
And of course the MOA knows this. They’re just hoping that legislators won’t have the time to dig to find what the musicians really want.
b. Return to the bargaining table in good faith with the musicians and resolve the contract negotiations expeditiously in a way that preserves the public interest and investments in the Orchestra
The Orchestral Association is ready and willing to engage in negotiation discussions. As a matter of fact, we specifically put forward our contract proposal in April, five months before the end of the contract, to allow ample time for discussion.
I think it’s worth reminding people here that way back in September, the MOA released that proposal to the public weeks before the old one expired, without telling the musicians they were going to do so. Needless to say, that’s not acting in “good faith.”
Keep in mind as well that during all these months, the MOA has not moved, or given the musicians the financial information they’ve requested. They might tell legislators that they’ve proposed two contracts, and that’s true…technically. But the second proposal still included about 97% of what they originally wanted. Not much negotiation or compromise happening there.
So no matter what the MOA says, nothing they’ve done over the course of this negotiation has been done in good faith, or with respect. Accordingly, they will need to do much more than send a letter to the legislature to regain the trust not just of the musicians, but of the taxpaying public.
More than eight months later, the musicians have not yet put forward a single counterproposal to allow for discussion at the table. We were very pleased to accept an offer from the federal mediator’s office to get involved: the federal mediator has not yet been successful in encouraging the musicians to come back to the table with a counterproposal either.
First of all, the main reason that the musicians have not submitted a counterproposal is because they don’t have a clear idea of what is happening with the MOA’s finances. (As we’ve already seen.)
Second, a counterproposal is simply not necessary for discussion. It never has been; it never will be. Read what orchestra expert Drew McManus says here. Mr. McManus, a respected consultant and a consummate professional, goes so far as to say that what Mr. Campbell and Mr. Henson are proposing is “a trap.” Once a counterproposal is on the table, it’s possible that could turn the conflict from a lockout into a strike, and that has ramifications, shall we say. Even more irritatingly, until December 21, the MOA was clear that they were not interested in even coming back to the table until a counterproposal was made. (Mr. Campbell and Mr. Davis, on November 28 in the Strib: “The musicians’ negotiating team appears to be avoiding at all costs our request to come back to the table with a substantive counterproposal.”) Now, of course, the MOA has changed their tune, saying there will be “no preconditions” on their proposed January talks. It’s still unclear whether this is a kind of publicity stunt, or if pressure from donors, patrons, and government officials is finally encouraging them to be more transparent. Based on their past actions, I’m going to guess the former…but we simply can’t know yet for sure. Let’s hope the MOA provides all information the musicians request, and that I’m proven wrong.
c. Provide the necessary financial documentation that assures the public that they have not been funding the lockout of the musicians and that no public funds were used to pay costs associated with the management discussion to shutter this premier cultural attraction in our state
The Orchestral Association has not used any public funds to fund administrative expenses of the lockout.
The Orchestral Association has received a total of $641,677 in the State’s current fiscal year in grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, which in turn came from the general fund and the Legacy fund. These grants are for general operating support. We are extremely appreciative of this funding, as it goes to support a portion of the general operations of the Orchestra, including musician salaries and benefits paid.
Let’s stop right there and get a little clarification as to what the phrase “administrative expenses” means. From WiseGeek:
Administrative expenses are costs that are associated with the management and general functions of an organization and are not directly related to a specific department. Sometimes considered part of general business expenses, these costs can be for basic needs such as rental space for the business, utilities or office supplies. Administrative costs also can include the salaries of people who are not involved in sales, production or other departments within the company, such as senior executives, secretaries and receptionists.
Then, later on the page:
For charities and other [non]profit organizations, administrative costs are often defined differently from the way for-profit businesses define them. In many cases, any money that is brought into the charity organization and spent by the organization instead of being turned into charitable efforts or donations is counted as an administrative cost. Therefore, all of the costs of running the organization, such as for salaries, marketing, rent and utilities, would be called administrative expenses.
And here’s the definition of general operating expenses from the Foundation Center:
grants for the day- to-day operating costs of an existing program or organization or to further the general purpose or work of an organization; also called unrestricted grants
So if I’m understanding correctly, the funds given to the MOA from the State of Minnesota went to general operating support, but not to administrative expenses related to the lockout. So…where exactly is that place? Would it be out of bounds to ask for further clarification? Did all of the public money go to musicians’ salaries? Mr. Henson’s salary? Rent for temporary offices? Did it go into the endowment? If so, where in the endowment? Did any of the money go to the hall renovation? If so, how much? Why? And what is “security” mentioned by the WCCO report? Is “security” an administrative expense? (What does “security” even mean in the context of an orchestra?) As you can see, the definitions get slippery quickly, especially since non-profit definitions can differ from for-profit ones. Some of our non-profit buffs may want to jump into this discussion in the comments. What do you think the MOA could be talking about here? (And as always, MOA, you’re more than welcome to get in touch with me directly… You know how much I’d love to hear from you. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve asked for you to respond to my questions over the months…)
d. A full accounting of what funds have been used for marketing the Building for the Future Fund, public relations related to the Fund of the lockout.
The Orchestral Association has relied on distributions from the endowment for costs associated with marketing, public relations and fundraising related to the Building for the Future Campaign and, as noted above, for costs associated with administration expenses related to the contract negotiation. We have worked hard to keep our campaign expenses low. These costs average about 1.5 of our annual fundraising total, compared to an industry standard that is between two and five percent.
I sure hope you’re right. I’m so hesitant to take anything the MOA says at face value. I always feel like there’s a trick behind everything they say, and many patrons feel the same. Needless to say, this isn’t a great position for a non-profit to be in.
e. A transparent representation of how endowment funds have been accounted for in loans and distributions to give the public perception of a balanced budget as Orchestra.
I’m not going to re-type everything that the MOA said in answer to this point, as they went into quite a bit of meandering detail. (It’s quite amazing how much they can say without saying anything at all…) Once again, you can read what they say here. But suffice it to say, not once does the MOA address why, back in 2009, they were planning to run deficits in 2011 and 2012.
From the MOA’s letter:
The Orchestra’s new strategic plan [adopted in 2011] calls for reductions in the rate of endowment distributions and continuing to show a balanced budget from operations would not accurately portray the financial condition of the Orchestra.
No…………..kidding, Sherlock. But isn’t this a tacit admission that showing a balanced budget from operations in 2009 and 2010 also didn’t accurately portray the financial condition of the Orchestra? The MOA can try to pussyfoot around this – cloak this in euphemism – write things on official-looking letterheads – but there’s really no getting around the fact they misled everyone.
This is what the MOA wants you to believe happened: throughout 2009 and 2010, while the economy was in freefall, the MOA was trying to figure out if bad things were happening to their finances (or, in their words, seeking “to better evaluate the depth and likely length of the recession and its effects on all sources of revenue”). As they were evaluating, they increased their draws from the endowment to meet expenses, but didn’t publicize the fact. And not only that, they trumpeted their extraordinary financial health to their patrons, the legislature, and the international press. (If you haven’t already, read this article from 2010: “With orchestras across the US hard hit by the recession – and management strategies the number-one talking point at the League of American Orchestras’ conference in June – the Minnesota Orchestra stands out as a beacon institution among the bad news.” That sentence was on their website until October of 2012, when I called them out on it and they pulled it from their website, without explanation.) But after the request for the $14 million from the State was approved, and after they’d gotten the additional private money they wanted for the Building for the Future Campaign, they finally decided to attack the problem by adapting a new strategy (“a restructured business plan”). Keep in mind that this plan had zero – zero – ZERO – public input…and it’s a strategy that experts from around the country have said will completely decimate the artistic quality of the orchestra. It also was the MOA’s first public acknowledgment that they had a financial problem. Do you really think they were so stupid that they didn’t know there was a problem in 2009 and 2010? Really? No. They knew. There was no reason they couldn’t have been honest with us. And they weren’t. And they don’t even acknowledge the dishonesty in this letter.
As noted above, public funds have not been used in this way. For avoidance of any doubt and to give you the assurance you are seeking, the Orchestral Association will immediately sequester in a separate account the funds that have been received from the Minnesota State Arts Board thus far in this fiscal year and will sequester any payments that are scheduled to be made going forward, until the contract negotiation is completed.
What does this do? Who, if anyone, will be overseeing this process? Have any funds already been spent? If so, on what? So many questions…
From yesterday’s MPR article: MN Orchestra re-opens negotiation talks, cancels concerts:
St. Paul DFL Rep. Alice Hausman, chair of the House Capital Improvement Committee, was one of the lawmakers who signed the letter. She supported giving the money for Orchestra Hall, but said it is important that musicians be treated fairly, as without them there would be no orchestra.
Hausman said she was pleased to hear about the sequestering of the Legacy funds.
“Having made that assurance, I personally would say, OK, I would take your word for it, you are going to put it in a separate account,” Hausman said. “And in that case I would probably say no legislative hearing would probably be necessary.”
However, Hausman said upcoming hearings on more Legacy funds for the orchestra will be problematic if the lock out continues.
“If the orchestra isn’t playing, ensuring we can’t send checks there, unless we have some sense that that is only going to be held for salaries for musicians,” Hausman said.
My dear Rep. Hausman, you are so awesome for looking into this, and I’m so so so deeply appreciative, but please, I beg you, don’t make that mistake! This problem goes way beyond if Legacy funds were used to fund the lockout. This is about a CEO misleading the state legislature, saying that his organization has “announced” balanced budgets, and that it is “facing the current economic downturn with stability,” when in fact it was doing no such thing. This is about a major non-profit believing it is okay to pre-plan deficits three to four years ahead of time, in order to be better positioned to get money from the government and wring concessions out of workers. (From the Star Tribune, November 26: ““Balances in 2009 and 2010 would support our state bonding aspirations,’ Bryan Ebensteiner, vice president of finance, told the orchestra’s executive committee in September 2009, ‘while the deficits in 2011 and 2012 would demonstrate the need to reset the business model.’” A “reset business model” is, of course, code for slashed salary and benefits.)
If Michael Henson and the Minnesota Orchestra management can get away with this, then other leaders will be emboldened. A disease of distrust will start to spread. We must not allow these individuals to set a precedent: this is not the way to do business in Minnesota. A sequestered account, while it may be a step forward, is not adequate. We still need that hearing. We need additional pressure from our elected officials. The public has too many unanswered questions, which the MOA refuses to answer. Keep in mind, not a single representative from the MOA has given an in-depth public interview about what is going on. Not one. This despite the fact that many writers have outstanding requests for interviews, including me, Matt Peiken from MNuet, and Drew McManus. If the only way we can get accountability is through the legislature, well, then so be it: let’s go through the legislature.
On the plus side, I’ve heard that Rep. Jim Davnie (the legislator in the WCCO video) is really fired up about this. A reader showed me a non-auto-reply email she got within a couple of hours of writing him…on Saturday. He said that he will “continue to work on this until the lock out is ended and the musicians return to work.” That’s comforting.
And also, here’s another tiny victory from the MPR article:
Henson said management is also prepared to respond to the musicians’ concerns about recent changes in the orchestra’s mission statement. He said the statement will revert to its original form except for three changes to expand the orchestra’s activities in the community.
So, we’ve restored “orchestra” to the mission statement. That’s…not nothing.
But one does wonder why exactly it was taken out in the first place. And I’m not going to express wholehearted approval until I see the precise wording of the new version of the old mission statement. But it’s…something, I guess. It’s one tiny little bit of movement toward accountability. I’m going to assume it’s a sign of pressure being applied behind the scenes.
So. Anyway. I think the moral of the story is: keep writing legislators. Keep a (polite) drumbeat pounding. They’re obviously looking into this. The pressure is on. But we need to keep encouraging them. A slap on the wrist is simply not enough: we need, and we deserve, accountability. This can’t be allowed to happen again.
Once again, I encourage anyone from the legislature to contact me at songofthelarkblog[at]gmail[dot]com if you want to speak privately about any of this. I’ve written about this conflict since late August, and gotten international attention for doing so. If I don’t know the answer to something, I will know exactly the person to direct you to. Trust me, I have lots of questions for Mr. Henson and Mr. Campbell. I’d be delighted to pass them along to you.
Well, well, well. I was assuming that my next blog entry would be about Sunday afternoon’s Ode to Joy show, but apparently the universe deigned otherwise. Yes, the day we’ve all been waiting for has finally come:
(Sorry for the huge font, but it’s an awfully fulfilling headline to have on the blog, and so I think it warrants BIG LETTERS.) Watch the video, if you haven’t already. Post it on Facebook, email it to friends. Make it go viral.
The letter mentioned in the WCCO report is here in a Strib blog (that, interestingly, is not filed under “arts”, but rather “politics”!). Hopefully it’s all right for me to transcribe it here:
December 6, 2012
Mr. Jon Campbell
Minnesota Orchestra Association
Mr. Michael Henson
Minnesota Orchestra Association
The Minnesota Orchestra plays a key and unique role in the life of our state. It is a vital part of our vibrant arts and culture community. It is an internationally respected orchestra, and an asset to our economic competitiveness as a state. It also plays a unique role in Minneapolis, drawing patrons to our downtown core for musical events throughout the year. From there, patrons fan out across the city to eat, drink and shop, pumping additional monies into our downtown businesses.
The State has recognized the importance of the Minnesota Orchestra in a number of significant ways. The current construction and remodeling of Orchestra Hall is funded with $14 million in public dollars. Additionally over the past two years the Orchestra has received over $1 million in general operating funds from Legacy grants.
In addition to direct state dollars any number of school districts enhance their arts education efforts through field trips to Orchestra Hall. These field trips, while often involving significant private dollars also have public funds intertwined in them.
The current lockout of musicians blunts the value of all of these public investments.
The Star Tribune reported Monday that the Board and management made a “strategic” decision to show balanced budgets while pursuing over $20 million in state bonding funds and show a deficit while preparing to negotiate with the Musicians for a new contract.
It is more importantly in direct conflict with Mr. Henson’s testimony to the Legislature in favor of bonding funding to that the Orchestra had “presented three balanced budgets in a row.”
As stewards of the public trust and money, this is of great concern to us and warrants a public hearing and explanation to the legislature and the taxpayers of Minnesota.
The receipt and use of Legacy dollars by the Orchestra for general operating purposes puts the public in the possible position of funding the lock out of the musicians and denial of musical opportunities to Minnesotans. Funding lockouts of anyone is not in the interests of the people or State of Minnesota.
We write in request that the Orchestra Association:
(a) provide the musicians the current financial year financial documents that they have repeatedly requested; (b) return to the bargaining table in good faith with the musicians and resolve the contract negotiations expeditiously in a way that preserves the public interest and investments in the orchestra; and (c) provides the necessary financial documentation that assure the public that they have not been funding the lockout of the musicians and that no public funds were used to pay costs associated with the management’s decision to shutter this premier cultural attraction in our state; (d) A full accounting of what funds have been used for marketing the Building for the Future Fund, public relations related to the Fund or the lockout, (e) A transparent representation of how endowment funds have been accounted for in loans and distributions to give the public perception of a balanced budget as Orchestra.
In Minnesota, the public trust is essential to our health civic vitality and the state’s continued investment via bonding and Legacy funds in our cultural and community institutions; we must ensure that we maintain this trust on behalf of the Minnesota Orchestra due to our significant current public investments.
We await your response.
I provided links to contact each of the representatives. If you have time, please send them a thank-you note or email. (Or heck, why not both?) Encourage them to continue their calls for transparency. Because, as you’ll notice, this letter was sent on December 6, and to the best of our knowledge, the MOA has not yet responded.
If you’ve been following the blog, the date December 6 will ring a bell with you: it was the day of the MOA’s annual meeting. Ex-actly. I bet I know now why their press release afterward was so subdued, and why, despite there being cameras at the Minneapolis Club, there was no filmed statement made by Mr. Henson or Mr. Campbell. Oh, to have been a fly on that luxurious paneled Club wall.
Here are some of my brief observations on the WCCO video…
JIM DAVNIE: Which is it? Are you facing the economic downturn with stability, or are you running deficits? Did you put three consecutive years of balanced budgets on the table successfully, or did you not?
This quote needs to be screamed from the rooftops.
Later in the segment, Doug Kelley is forced to do a job that CEO of the Orchestra, MICHAEL HENSON, should be doing.
DOUG KELLEY: I am confident when we testify before them that the legislature will be satisfied that nobody from the Minnesota Orchestra misled them about the budget or our future stability.
Cool! Since you’re so confident, would you mind if the public listens in…? Awesome. I’ll just be over here in the corner listening quietly, with my popcorn. *waves*
I’m relieved to hear that Mr. Kelley says “when” and not “if.” It sounds as if he believes that a hearing is inevitable. Hopefully the only reason a date hasn’t been set yet is because we’re in between sessions. In the meantime, letters and emails to Minnesota representatives can’t hurt…
REPORTER: The Orchestra also received a million dollars in State Legacy funds for operating expenses, and legislators want to know if any of that money is being used for lawyers, security, or any other expense to fund the lockout…
Security? *eyebrow raise*
REPORTER: Mr. Kelley from the Orchestra said that no money of any kind in any way is being used to fund that lockout…
Wow, that seems……………………………hilariously implausible. I guess the money being spent on mailings is either A) coming from a magical fairy place, or B) Doug Kelley doesn’t consider mailings about the lockout to be a part of the lockout…
REPORTER: But even if this lockout ends, lawmakers at the Capital, Amelia, say that they’re going to hold that hearing anyway to find out how this happened, and where all this money is going and how it is being used.
So that of course leads us to the question:
CAN WE GO TO THE HEARING?
No idea. Hold your horses. I don’t know when the hearing (hearings?) will be held; I don’t know who will be testifying; I don’t know if the hearing(s) will be open to the public; I don’t know if the press will be invited; I don’t know if bloggers are considered to be members of the press. I don’t know anything about it. All I know about it is that I’m going. If I can get into the hearing, I’ll get into the hearing. If I’m not allowed into the hearing, I will be outside at some kind of orch-dorky rally. If Orchestrate Excellence doesn’t spearhead one, I will. What do we want? Accountability! When do we want it? Now! Maybe if we’re lucky, we could swing both a rally and a hearing observation. Stay tuned.
Among all the hubbub, it’s easy to miss that concerts have been canceled until February 10…
The Minnesota Orchestral Association announced that it has cancelled or rescheduled its concert performances through Sunday, February 10, 2013, noting that negotiations over a new labor agreement with musicians remain at a standstill. As a means to initiate further talks, the Board Negotiating Committee has issued an invitation to the Musicians’ Union to return to the negotiating table on Saturday, January 5 or Wednesday, January 9, 2013, without any preconditions.
All ticketholders of affected concerts are being contacted and offered a variety of options including the opportunity to exchange tickets for a future concert or receive a refund.
“We are sorry for the disappointment these cancellations will bring to Orchestra audiences, but without progress toward a new contract and in consideration of the needs of our audiences, guest artists and partnering venues, we believe we have no choice but to cancel these performances,” said Minnesota Orchestra Board Chair Jon Campbell. “We all want to resume the concert season as soon as possible, and the only way to do that is to sit down together and negotiate a settlement that will help resolve the Orchestra’s serious financial challenges. We hope our invitation to come back to the negotiating table—which comes without preconditions—can begin that process.”
On December 6, the Orchestral Association posted an operating deficit of $6 million for Fiscal 2012, the largest operating loss in its history, and released the independently audited financial statements for its 2011-12 fiscal year. The audit was conducted and certified by accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen.
Contract talks between the Orchestral Association and its musicians, who are members of the Twin Cities Musicians’ Union (Local 30-73), began on April 12 and are currently overseen by a federal mediator. The Orchestral Association’s proposal offers a total package averaging $119,000 per musician, including an average salary of $89,000 with $30,000 in benefits per musician. The proposal also includes 10 weeks of paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave.
The MOA’s public tone has changed drastically. No mention of perplexion – or cliffs – or counterproposals. Indeed, there’s not much disrespect shown to the musicians at all. (I mean, they’re still not respecting them like they should, but at least they’re not dragging them through the mud, and that’s progress.) If you want to stroll down Memory Lane, take a looksie at how combative the October and November cancellations were. This one is incredibly mild in comparison. Read the tea leaves as you will.
One wonders what exactly the “no preconditions” bit means. Scrapping of all previous offers and starting from scratch? Is this a PR stunt to get public opinion back on their side? (It’s a little too late for that, MOA, but…okay…) An effort to satisfy big donors and/or government officials? Will the MOA be open to arbitration? An independent analysis? Is Mr. Henson’s job on the line? Are there fractures appearing within the board?
I have no idea what’s going on. So stay tuned. And in the meantime, may I offer…
I wanted to be the first blogger to break it:
More information as it develops…