By Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer, December 11, 2015
CLEVELAND, Ohio -– Union musicians and Cleveland Orchestra managers have struck a new labor agreement.
The two sides announced Friday the ratification of a new contract retroactive to Aug. 31, when the previous contract, signed in 2012, expired. The new deal is valid through the 2017-18 season.
"There's a lot of momentum going right now, and nobody wanted to disrupt that," said James Menger, the orchestra's chief financial officer and lead negotiator. "This allows that momentum to keep going."
The new contract is between roughly 100 members of Local 4 of the American Federation of Musicians and the Musical Arts Association, the governing body of the orchestra, led by Dennis LaBarre.
The agreement marks a smooth end to a lengthy so-called 'play and talk' period, and extends the peace that has reigned at Severance Hall since 2010, when orchestra members waged a brief strike.
Bassoonist Jonathan Sherwin, chair of the musicians committee, described this round of negotiations as "somewhat more contentious" than in 2012, but also said the orchestra "responded well" to the concerns of the musicians.
In particular, Sherwin said, the contract -– ratified by a 72-percent majority –- narrows what he called a growing gulf between musician salaries at the Cleveland Orchestra and other major ensembles.
"We have been keenly aware of a widening gap between our compensation and those of our peer orchestras," he said. "We were successful in stopping that widening."
Both Sherwin and Menger declined to discuss specific financial terms of the new contract. However, both parties confirmed that the deal calls for annual increases in weekly compensation and retirement benefits, along with improvements in working conditions when touring. Base pay, according to the most recent figures available to the public, is approximately $120,000.
In return, both parties said, the musicians agreed to certain recording and broadcast provisions, to higher shared healthcare premiums, and to donate 12 services over the contract's duration. These can be concerts or other appearances, at home or on tour, from which the orchestra can earn revenue.
"We think it's a fair agreement," Sherwin said. "We're very pleased that they were willing to address the professional concerns that we had."
The momentum Menger described is seen in the orchestra's latest annual report, which revealed a string of institutional successes including record philanthropy, higher attendance, endowment growth and a small budgetary surplus.
Having a new contract in place, Menger said, frees the organization to focus anew on those matters, to push forward with artistic planning, with ongoing strategies for attracting new listeners, and increased fundraising efforts.
"Both parties wanted that from the beginning," he said. "There was a shared belief that we all have a stake in this."
Read the article on cleveland.com.
By Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer
Maybe it was booking appearances by such international sensations as pianist Lang Lang, who visited in October. But the Cleveland Orchestra under music director Franz Welser-Most, shown conducting, attracted more youthful concertgoers in its last fiscal year, according to its annual report, which was released Tuesday. (Roger Mastroianni)
Like a Bruckner symphony or Wagner opera, the good news from the Cleveland Orchestra's latest annual report just goes on and on.
For the second year in a row, the group Tuesday released a document revealing almost nothing but positive developments. In fiscal 2014, the orchestra posted a sizable surplus, a vastly larger endowment, record fundraising and some of its healthiest attendance figures ever.
"We had an extraordinary season, and not just financially," said outgoing executive director Gary Hanson, noting that his goal of leaving the orchestra in better shape than he found it when he retires next year is now "within reach."
Hold on to your jaw. It's about to drop. The main number of interest in the 31-page report is $941,000, the amount the institution recorded as surplus.
That's right. After years of fighting to balance its books, at a time when some orchestras are struggling simply to survive, Cleveland this year came out with nearly $1 million extra. The last year that happened was 2001.
Against the orchestra's budget of $48.7 million, $941,000 may seem a trifling amount. Less than 2 percent. In light of its recent shortfalls, however, and those of other ensembles, the figure is hugely significant.
Perhaps even more notable: the surplus came despite a wave of free and discounted tickets. Pushing ahead with its popular "Under 18s Free" and Student Advantage deals, the orchestra in 2014 hosted its 100,000th youngster.
Paid attendance by college-age students rose 50 percent, Hanson said, while some 22,000 listeners under age 18 – twice as many as last year – attended for free with older, paying customers.
Financial stability is one thing, Hanson said, but "It's even greater to have real indications of a bright future, both for the institution and the art form."
The endowment also grew by leaps and bounds. As of June 30, the orchestra's reserve was worth just over $172 million, an all-time record and over $22 million more than last year.
No longer, in other words, does the orchestra's unofficial goal of a $300 million endowment, on which a small draw would cover the standard gap between revenue and expenses, seem overly ambitious. The previous record, in fiscal 2000, was $159 million.
"For me, this represents a lot of progress," said Dennis LaBarre, president of the Musical Arts Association, the orchestra's governing body. "I'm as pleased as I can be with what we've achieved to date."
Along with these came growth in overall attendance. While the average audience at Severance Hall increased slightly to about 1,600, the figure at Blossom Music Center jumped a dramatic 11 percent to a record 7,050, fueled in part by a Beatles tribute, an appearance by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and a free night led by music director Franz Welser-Most, courtesy of the Cleveland Foundation.
Read the entire story at cleveland.com.
December 7, 2015. By the Indianapolis Business Journal Staff.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on Monday afternoon reported its third straight annual budget surplus, thanks to a rise in ticket sales and steady fundraising.
The ISO said it took in $23.8 million in operating revenue during the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31, while realizing expenses of $22.9 million. The budget surplus of $900,000 topped last year’s $266,000 and $236,000 in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
The ISO operated in the red for five consecutive years before reporting the 2012-13 surplus.
Operating revenue in the latest fiscal year was up about $300,000 from the previous year while expenses fell 1 percent.
The not-for-profit symphony funds its operation with a combination of ticket sales, charitable donations and income from its endowment.
Income from ticket sales increased 8 percent over the previous year thanks to a 24 percent jump in the number of ticket subscriptions.
Student ticket sales rose, with a total of 9,014 tickets sold in 2014-15, a 33 percent increase over the previous year. Summer concert series Marsh Symphony on the Prairie saw a 7 percent rise in ticket sales.
Fundraising slipped slightly, to $9.25 million, down from $9.73 million last year and a record $10.67 million in fiscal 2012-13.
The ISO drew $5.39 million from the Indiana Symphony Orchestra Foundation, consisting of $3.93 million for operations and $1.46 million for pension contributions. The overall draw rate from the endowment was was 6.2 percent, the same as last year’s rate. The endowment's balance as of Aug. 31 was $91.2 million, down slightly from $92.5 million a year ago.
“The ISO is delighted to report another strong season in artistic accomplishment, audience growth, fundraising and strong financial stewardship,” ISO CEO Gary Ginstling said in written remarks. “We are encouraged that more people are experiencing the ISO in performance, and that the community’s support remains so strong.”
Read the story on the Journal's Website at ibj.com.