I’m sure that by now, most of you have heard that both Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians are locked out. I’ve had several people approach me lately and ask how the Minnesota Opera might be affected.
I thought I might use the blog this week to get people more informed.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Q: Will the orchestra lockouts have an impact on Minnesota Opera’s season?
A: No. Minnesota Opera engages its own ensemble, the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, for its performances, and will not be affected by work stoppages at Minnesota Orchestra or Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Q: What is Minnesota Opera’s relationship with its orchestra/unions?
A: Minnesota Opera has labor contracts in place with both its orchestra musicians (through the local chapter of the AFM) and with its stagehands (through IATSE), and has good relations with both. The orchestra is in the fourth year of a four-year agreement, and the stagehands are in the fourth year of a five-year agreement.
Minnesota Opera has a core orchestra that is employed on a pay-per-service basis each season, and its musicians are offered an average of 55-60 services per year.
Q: Are there Minnesota Orchestra or SPCO players in the Minnesota Opera Orchestra?
A: Although there are many musicians in the Minnesota Opera Orchestra who freelance as subs for Minnesota Orchestra and/or the SPCO, none are regular members of those ensembles. Some have spouses who are Minnesota Orchestra or SPCO musicians.
Q: Will labor strife at the SPCO make it more difficult to raise the remaining money for the Arts Partnership campaign?
A: The Arts Partnership has continued to raise funds throughout the recent public discussion of the labor issues surrounding the SPCO and its musicians, and those efforts will continue. Funders understand that the concert hall and access endowment are long-term solutions for the health and vitality of all four organizations, as well as the Saint Paul and the community at large, and that the Arts Partnership work must continue no matter what any individual organization is going through in the short term.
Q: Should the SPCO be raising money for a new hall when its own budget is not in balance?
A: The Arts Partnership is raising money to fund the solutions that address the long-term challenges of access and affordability affecting all four organizations. As a member of the Arts Partnership, the SPCO won’t ignore either challenge.
Q: If the Arts Partnership is negatively impacted by labor strife, what would that mean for Minnesota Opera?
A: Minnesota Opera and each of the other Arts Partnership organizations receive a rent subsidy, which, in case of the Opera, represents a significant amount of operational funding. If that source of revenue were not available to Minnesota Opera, the organization would need to find other revenue sources to cover the costs of its programming. Minnesota Opera expects that the SPCO’s players and management will reach a resolution to their current differences.
Q: Has Minnesota Opera ever experienced work stoppages due to labor negotiations?
A: Yes. Minnesota Opera’s orchestra was on strike from the spring of 1993 and extending into its following season, which started later due to the labor situation. The issues were resolved and Minnesota Opera enjoys a very positive relationship with its orchestra players and their union.
- Colin Dickau, Tempo Board of Directors
Visit Minnesota Opera’s blog every week for Tempo Tuesday