December 6, 2018
The Baltimore Symphony’s proposal reflects thoughtful analysis undertaken by the BSO’s management and Board of Directors to preserve the Orchestra. We are committed to both sustaining artistic excellence and strengthening our business model to ensure our community, and our audiences in Baltimore, Bethesda, and the State of Maryland, are home to a world-class orchestra for many years to come.
Alignment of Performances to Market Demand
• Although we have recently seen some of the most promising financial results in the last several years, the BSO has lost an average of $1.6 million per year over the last 10 years.
• As we have explained to our musicians during bargaining, the Baltimore Symphony can no longer support a 52-week season. Our proposal includes a reduction to a 40-week season, with the number of performances aligned to market demand.
• This proposed change will have minimal impact on our subscribers, due to the fact that the primary reduction is in summer weeks.
• We will continue to maintain a robust schedule of classical and pops concerts, along with other programming, in the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and the Music Center at Strathmore.
Weekly Wages for our Musicians
• Though the proposal reduces the number of weeks in order to align the amount of work with demand, weekly wages for work performed is proposed to increase modestly during the term of the agreement. Our musicians received a 6% increase in weekly wages during the last two years.
• Under the proposed agreement, the musicians’ annual salary will be reduced due to the reduced paid weeks. The BSO musicians would have the opportunity to perform in summer music festivals and continue to engage in other opportunities outside the BSO.
Sustaining Number of Musicians and Filling Vacancies
• The BSO’s proposal includes a commitment to conduct auditions in each year that we are below a minimum of 83 full-time musicians.
Adjustments to Benefits
• The BSO proposal includes 4 weeks of paid vacation. Because of our financial concerns, the BSO has proposed a reduction in the 9 weeks paid vacation that is currently provided for our musicians.
• Our musicians receive a generous health benefits package, and the BSO is committed to continuing those benefits, although the BSO is proposing an increase in the current employee participation of 3% towards health insurance premiums.
• The BSO proposal includes a reduction from the 120 paid sick days in the current contract.
• Dental insurance, life insurance of $100,000, and long-term disability benefits for our musicians would still be fully paid for by the BSO in our proposal.
Endowment Draw Vital for Annual Operations
• The purpose of the Endowment Trust is to support the long-term sustainability of the organization, while honoring the intent and directives of the donors.
• The current annual endowment draw for operations exceeds $3.5 million per year, with the draw rate currently at a high level of 5.75%, above what many experts recommend.
• Continued progress on our Second Century Campaign will grow the endowment, increase the annual draw for operations, and help the BSO further its trajectory of artistic excellence, accessibility and community impact throughout the region.
What Makes a World-Class Orchestra?
• We will maintain the BSO’s standing as a major orchestra, committed to touring, recording and broadcasting.
• Other orchestras of our budget size and artistic status that have made significant changes over the last decade still present world-class performances, tour internationally, win Grammy Awards, and broadcast nationally and internationally. Of the 21 major orchestras across the country as defined by budget size, one third have seasons less than 52 weeks. Furthermore, of the major orchestras in our immediate peer group based on budget size, the majority have seasons shorter than 52 weeks.
• Major orchestras have reduced the length of their seasons and today have improved stability and increased success. We will not only preserve the world-class status of the BSO, but also ensure that our audiences can continue to enjoy our outstanding orchestra for generations to come.