Locked out Minnesota Orchestra musicians rally - New York News

Locked out Minnesota Orchestra musicians rally

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The locked out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra held a "rally of unity" Monday afternoon outside Orchestra Hall.

The next two months' worth of concerts have been canceled as a result of the lockout. Unlike other lockout cancellations, however, the orchestra is not automatically refunding ticket holders.

The Minnesota Orchestra rejected two counter offers offered by the musicians on Sunday, triggering the midnight lockout. According to the musicians, the offer to play and continue negotiations was rejected along with an offer to enter binding arbitration to reach a new contract agreement and avoid a lockout.

"Our desire would be to continue to play and talk, and we are disappointed for our fans," said musician Tim Zavadil.

Doug Kelley, vice chair of the negotiating committee for the orchestra board, said that just isn't an option.

"We didn't think that playing and talking was going to be fruitful if we have been at the table for six months and haven't gotten one proposal from them," Kelley said.

The musicians had unanimously rejected a proposed 30 to 50 percent pay cut on Saturday.

"We remain deeply concerned about what management is hiding in their financial reports.  Today we renew our call for a joint and independent financial analysis of the Orchestra's finances.  We find it deeply disturbing that they would lock-out the musicians and cancel concerts rather than undergo a transparent review of the Orchestra's finances," the musicians said in a statement on Monday.

Kelley told FOX 9 News the Minnesota Orchestra is coming out of a $2.9 million deficit from last year, and a larger deficit is expected this year unless they find a way to save money. Otherwise, he says the Orchestra will have depleted its endowment by the end of the five-year contract.

The musicians argue that reducing salaries by up to 50 percent isn't fair -- especially since The New Yorker has dubbed the Minnesota Orchestra among the best in the world. If their pay is halved, they say the orchestra's quality will suffer.

According to Minnesota Citizens for the ARts, organizations like the Minnesota Orchestra account for $328 million in economic impact for the city of Minneapolis alone. It remains to be seen how much a shorter season will cost.

Last week, the orchestra managers announced $97 million in new fundraising for it's Building for the Future Fund, including over $50 million allocated for a new lobby in the Orchestra Hall and $14 million in taxpayer funding.

Despite that announcement, the musicians say both the orchestra managers and the board have refused to provide a copy of the 2013 budget to the musicians. In fact, they claim no verified financial information has been provided since August 2011.

Orchestra Hall is located at 11th Street and Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. Businesses in the area and shops that repair instruments told FOX 9 News they expect to take a hit during the lockout.

The lockout may also mean fewer field trips for students.

The Minnesota Orchestra is not alone in its struggle either. The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra is in the middle of tense negotiations currently, and orchestras in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Chicago have dealt with bankruptcy, strikes and lockouts too.

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