Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Musicians Reach Extraordinary Five-Year Agreement for Innovation, Impact and Stability
Agreement advances artistic growth while including COVID-19 adjustments, increases in subsequent years, and other important changes to ensure greater operational efficiencies and enhance the BSO’s service to the community
August 28, 2020 – The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Inc. (BSO) and its musicians, who are represented by the Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore, Local 40-543 American Federation of Musicians, announced today that they have reached a five-year agreement on a new contract that begins on September 7, 2020. This five-year contract provides foundational stability and marks the first long-term agreement since a three-year contract expired in 2016.
Central to the agreement is an acknowledgement of the significant financial pressures associated with COVID-19 social distancing in the form of near-term compensation adjustments, followed by gradual increases in both compensation and musician complement beginning in the second year of the agreement. Equally significant, this agreement supports achievement of goals outlined in the BSO’s strategic plan as announced in February 2020 – an adjustment in work rules to seed new and increased audience, community and donor engagement activities as well as programmatic innovations in Baltimore, in Montgomery County and throughout Maryland. The agreement also advances an institutional recommitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) by establishing a task force to design new professional development opportunities, evaluate orchestral hiring procedures and establish new fellowship programs.
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Board Chair Barry Rosen said, “We are especially gratified that a long-term agreement has been reached with our musicians. Our collaboration was punctuated by a commitment to the future success of our great orchestra, which success is our joint responsibility.” Rosen continued, “The tone and content of all of our negotiations were always constructive and cordial. Reaching agreement on a five-year contract is a key ingredient for the BSO to expand upon the extraordinary philanthropic support it received from our community earlier this year, and a key ingredient in the implementation of our five-year strategic plan.”
BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome stated, “The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is one of the finest orchestras in the country. We are grateful to our superb musicians and the Players’ Committee for our collaboration as we chart a course for a bright future together despite the challenges we are currently facing due to COVID-19.” Kjome added, “We are thrilled that this multi-year agreement reflects our commitment to increasing both compensation and the number of musicians in our exceptional orchestra, while continuing to pursue the goals outlined in our strategic plan.”
BSO Players’ Committee Chair Brian Prechtl stated, “The Musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra are so pleased with the momentous agreement we have been able to achieve together with BSO leadership. This long term agreement will allow us to continue to attract world class musicians and will give us the freedom to concentrate on what we do best – making sublime music that nurtures and uplifts hearts, minds and spirit.”
The terms of the five-year agreement, effective from September 7, 2020 through September 14, 2025, include the following:
- COVID-19 provisions including reductions during the initial year (2020-21 season) followed by annual increases in base scale.
- Year 1: (2020-21 season) 26% reduction in base scale and a 75% reduction in overscale and seniority
- Year 2: (2021-22 season) 1% increase in base scale (from pre-COVID level)
- Year 3: (2022-23 season) 1% increase
- Year 4: (2023-24 season) 1.75% increase
- Year 5: (2024-25 season) 2.5% (reaching a minimum annual wage of $90,100 in the final year)
- Gradual increases in the number of full-time musicians, including gradual filling of vacancies, moving from 75 full-time musicians (2020-21 season) to 85 full-time musicians, including librarians, in year 5 (2024-25 season).
- Continuation of a comprehensive year-round benefits package which includes medical, dental, vision, life, long-term disability, and instrument insurance.
- Formation of a diversity task force to address ways to increase diversity on stage including a new fellowship program to be developed with the Sphinx organization.
- Increased responsiveness in scheduling and programming to pursue new earned revenue and community engagement opportunities.
- Maximum visibility of the orchestra in the region, across the state and beyond through digital platforms.
- Building on the popularity of BSO OffStage, new structures for a continuation of at-home content by musicians as part of COVID-19 provisions.
- New provisions for the BSO’s operations and increased profile in Montgomery County including expanded opportunities for donor and patron engagement.
About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
For over a century, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has been recognized as one of America’s leading orchestras and one of Maryland’s most significant cultural institutions. Under the direction of Music Director Marin Alsop, the orchestra is internationally renowned and locally admired for its innovation, performances, recordings and educational outreach initiatives including OrchKids.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs annually for more than 275,000 people throughout the State of Maryland. Since 1982, the BSO has performed at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, and since 2005, with the opening of The Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD, the BSO became the nation’s first orchestra performing its full season of classical and pops concerts in two metropolitan areas. More information about the BSO can be found at BSOmusic.org.