Orchestra lockout hurts local arts

The ongoing bargaining impasse is severely damaging the Twin Cities’ arts reputation.

Daily Editorial Board

It’s been more than a year since the Minnesota Orchestra lockout began. Orchestra musicians voted to reject the latest contract proposal put forth by management (the Minnesota Orchestra Association) on Sept. 28. Last Tuesday, renowned conductor Osmo Vänskä resigned as it was announced that the orchestra’s upcoming Carnegie Hall concerts would be canceled. 

Vänskä’s resignation brings the fallout of ongoing negotiations between musicians and management to a new low. Both the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra have been involved in lockouts forcing concert cancellations over the past year. Though the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra was able to reach an agreement and has resumed playing, the lockouts represent the state of disarray many of the nation’s major orchestras have fought through as a result of economic instability.

It is clear that neither the musicians nor management is ready to offer major concessions on a contract proposal. Orchestra musicians claim on their website that accepting the Minnesota Orchestra Association’s contract proposals would reduce the organization to a “third tier team,” while the Minnesota Orchestra Association suggests salary cuts and other contract concessions are needed to adapt to changing economic conditions as other orchestras have done across the country.

The ongoing lockout is an embarrassment to the reputation of the Twin Cities’ arts community; continued cancellation of concerts as well as Vänskä’s resignation will severely damage the Orchestra’s world-class standing.

Though there is no simple solution to such a multi-faceted conflict, if compromise is not reached soon, the public will be left to wonder whether the Twin Cities is really a place where art can survive economic instability, let alone thrive during it.