More work needed to save orchestra

Though the Minnesota Orchestra lockout is over, more work is necessary to ensure its well-being.

The Minnesota Orchestra’s bitter lockout ended last week when both sides agreed to a three-year contract with pay cuts. As Minnesota Orchestra musicians resume playing next month, we hope the orchestra board can continue to work on long-term savings and/or revenue problems to ensure the orchestra’s well-being.

As the Minnesota Daily editorial board noted in October, the Minnesota Orchestra lockout and last year’s St. Paul Chamber Orchestra lockout left the Twin Cities music scene in disarray. Though the current deal ended the lockout, it will save only $3.5 million of the $5 million the orchestra board said it needed to cut from annual labor costs. The orchestra’s deficit won’t go away without additional work from the board and musicians.

The lockout also had tangible effects on University of Minnesota students and faculty. The Minnesota Daily reported in November 2012 that prior to the lockout, University students would regularly interact with Minnesota Orchestra musicians. Minnesota Orchestra members would occasionally rehearse with University Symphony Orchestra members or even lead small-group rehearsals. Students also lost the chance to learn through watching and listening to the orchestra. There is more at stake than a world-class orchestra if the Minnesota Orchestra can’t reconcile its deficit woes.

Fortunately, the lockout was a call to action for many Minnesota music lovers, including groups Save Our Symphony Minnesota and Orchestra Excellence. If these groups and other supporters are evidence of community backing, then hopefully, additional revenue will also follow as the orchestra returns to Orchestra Hall.