Ailing symphony proposes shift to part-time status

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The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, one of only 17 full-time orchestras in the nation, is proposing shifting to part-time status as part of a plan to address longstanding financial problems.

The board and management are pushing for the changes in negotiations with the musicians’ union that continued this week, a union leader said Tuesday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the ISO wanted to cut musicians’ annual pay by almost half as part of a plan that would reduce the orchestra’s schedule from 52 to 36 weeks a year, said Richard Graef, chairman of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra Negotiation Committee.

The cuts are aimed at providing financial stability in the wake of an unsuccessful effort in 2010 and 2011 to raise $100 million in a capital campaign. The effort raised just $12 million before being put on hold. The fundraiser was the ISO’s attempt to restore an endowment that plummeted from $120 million before the recession to as low as $80 million.

Management’s proposal also includes reducing the 87-member orchestra to 63 artists.

Those who remain would end up with a 45-percent cut in annual pay, Graef said.

The symphony would phase out pensions in favor of a 403(b), a type of retirement plan used by some tax-exempt organizations that is similar to a 401(k).

Musicians’ current three-year contract expires Sept. 3.

The extent of cuts is subject to change, depending on the outcome of the ongoing negotiations with musicians.

ISO spokeswoman Jessica Di Santo declined to comment on the proposed cuts or the negotiations.

“We don’t comment until we get an agreement,” Di Santo said.

The ISO’s cost-cutting is in response to a $4 million cap on how much the organization can draw from its $89 million endowment in the 2012-13 fiscal year, which starts Sept. 1, said a source close to the administration who spoke to IBJ on the condition of anonymity.

The foundation’s board of directors imposed the cap after the ISO drew roughly double that the past few years, the source said.

The ISO’s budget this year was about $25 million. Removing several million dollars in revenue essentially forced the discussions toward a shortened concert schedule, the source said.

The musicians’ union proposed concessions that Graef said would compensate for the lost revenue while sustaining the group’s artistic integrity.

The union and management both are seeking five-year contracts. Graef said musicians would accept a 12.6-percent pay cut in the first year and a pay freeze the second year, with partial restorations the following three years. The contract would finish with pay 1 percent below its current level.

Performers also would take 14 weeks of furloughs over the five years, under the union’s proposal.

If the ISO and union can’t reach agreement by midnight Sunday, one possibility is they could agree to extend the old contract and operate under it until they have a new collective bargaining agreement.

Another option is they could declare an impasse. That could lead ISO to lock out the performers, or the performers could strike.

Graef said he wants neither of those.


  • Just Business?
    Just business? Jettisoning musicians and slashing costs isn't going to save the Indianapolis Symphony. Suppose you are a contractor in charge of building a hospital for the community, and one of the subcontractors you need is electrical. The work needs to be of the highest quality and come together quickly. Your remaining budget is an issue, however. To get the job done safely and correctly, there is only one electrical contractor you work with who has the required combination of depth of experience, quality control and full time manpower to get the job done to spec. Unfortunately, in order to meet the safety and quality standards while meeting the deadline, you'll need to find more money, because you can't cut corners on this job. There are no quick and dirty shortcuts or short term solutions. Better workmanship means fewer ongoing maintenance costs moving forward, and improved safety for staff and patients of what promises to be an important facility in the coming years. Opening the doors on schedule will greatly benefit current residents of the community and improve the regional infrastructure. Perhaps in business you've heard the saying "Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick any two". This triangle showcasing the relationship between best quality, lowest cost and greatest efficiency exists for every business, whether it's a sole proprietor or a large organization. If the prevailing wisdom is arts and entertainment on the cheap in Indianapolis, you've already set the cornerstone for a community orchestra. Robert Puff Seattle, WA
  • Give the Symphony to the musicians
    I'm working on a piece for HuffPo Arts about the Indiana situation that poses out-of-the-box scenario questions in an effort to understand what leverage the musicians might have if they shift their paradigm towards getting ownership in return for concessions How much are orchestras worth, including their exclusive access to the community's best hall? Can the players trade contract changes for ownership rights? Does the orchestra still deserve its 501c3 exemption? Could music education, along with the resources and funding orchestras receive, be returned to the public schools? Could an umbrella organization be created to operate the country's top orchestras in competitive leagues? When are we going to hold a festival of the great orchestras at Rice, Juilliard, Ann Arbor, Curtis, Eastman, etc.? How can it be that our struggling, underfunded, antediluvian, not for profit orchestras are at the center of the commercial classical music complex? I write for Huffington Post, Gramophone, Strings, Audiophile Audition, the Southern California Early Music Society, and Seen and Heard International. My latest article: http://tinyurl.com/9dhq2ac Laurence *** TEXT OF HUFFPO ARTS OP-ED PIECE SCHEDULED TO RUN TODAY: COULD PRESIDENT'S OBAMA'S TWEET SAVE AMERICA'S ORCHESTRAS? When President Obama tweeted, "she's the conductor and I'm second fiddle," after his wife's speech at the opening session of the Democratic National Convention, he provided the perfect tool for a long overdue revolution in the classical music orchestra industry. It couldn't have happened at a better time. Orchestras in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Detroit are or have recently been in crisis stage. The President might not have had this in mind, but the advent of women conductors on a large scale could grow the classical music industry exponentially by uniquely illuminating classical music in ways that have not been heard before. The arrival in a meaningful way of women conductors would provide inspiring role models for children, give a boost to music education, and hand America's orchestras something new and exciting to sell at a time when they desperately need the help. Before the President's tweet, women like Michelle LaVaughn Robinson stood a better chance of becoming the nation's First Lady than they did of becoming the conductor of an American orchestra. Post tweet, however, the situation could quickly change. With Michelle Obama the conductor in the White House, and the President only the second fiddle, it's time for America's orchestras to take their cue. This is the right time to invest in woman conductors. It's a curious fact about the classical music industry: Women have been kept off the podium for so long that not only audiences but musicians, critics and management have no idea how much they would bring in terms of unique expressive content and emotional dimensions to classical music's most beloved symphonies and concertos. The women know, but theirs has been a largely unheard legacy. Until last night, if you wanted to avoid heartache, you wouldn't let your daughters dream of growing up to be conductors. Now that the President has tweeted, hand your girls a baton and Beethoven, watch out!
  • Tea Party Board
    I suppose the board members would welcome a 40%+ reduction in their net worth as they try to raise families, etc. For musicians who choose the honorable life of being musicians, there is not a great deal of financial security beyond getting from year to year. For this non solution to be proposed as a solution in the city of my birth makes me sad. It is the cultural heritage of tea party nonsense. There are things that take precedent in this world, and great music is one of them for reasons too numerous to mention here. The board should take time to reflect on their duties and find a way to put in the time necessary to raise the endowment funding to a level where this type of potential disaster becomes a non issue.
  • One trick ponies
    What this is showing is that there's too many people managing the orchestra. It's been that way for more than twenty years. The endowment was, and always should be for the MUSICIANS. But as the economy has tanked and technology has improved, the musicians will need to step up and start running some of those functions AND perform. Here's an idea, the musicians not playing that weeks concerts should be working as ticket agents. Musicians not working the full 52 week season should be working on marketing, grant writing, and solicitations for sponsorships. Good lord, that's what hundreds of small community theater, choirs, orchestras, and bands do EVERY year. If the tuba player isn't playing, he can be changing lightbulbs, vacuuming, and taking out the trash, working in the library, or scrubbing toilets. And good grief, a lot of these musicians are adjunct professors at regional universities, private instructors, music publishers, among other things. Some people do have to work more than one job to sustain themselves. Get real, grow up, and start spending money wisely.
  • We All Are Watching
    To the Civic and Business Leaders of Indianapolis and the Musicians and Administration of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra: You have many supporters from around the nation. I was born in Indiana and though I live elsewhere, I have always felt that the level of music and musicianship that emerged from my home state were things of which to be most proud and point to in discussion. The news of the difficulties there have saddened me greatly. Additionally, the fate of the orchestra will have a great effect on the viability of other orchestras in the United States, so plenty of musicians and supporters of classical music are also watching and send their best wishes to all, hoping that this fine institution can resolve its problems and quickly get back to full force and strength.
  • Finger-pointing
    Many comments here are the very predictable ones, "The marketing department lacks imagination", "They need more professional fund raisers", or the more generic "Management is just screwed up." While there might be a few examples to support each of those statements, those are not the core issues. We could just as easily say the problems are due to the 4th chair cellist making a bad entrance or the trumpet section playing sharp or whatever. The core issues are political, and they result directly from the choices we made as a nation and as a city. On a national level, we elected people who spent all our money on unfunded wars and tax cuts for the richest among us. By the end of the last administration, these choices caused the deepest financial catastrophe since the Great Depression. Decisions have consequences. And the consequences in this case are that the stock market cratered. This means that all of the charitable funds saw their value collapse by 30-50%. Those outfits naturally reduced their support for many organizations, including the ISO. Under the current President, the stock market has recovered to the point where it was before the collapse, but granting organizations are very conservative. It will probably be several more years before they return to their prior levels of support. And on a local basis, we elected and re-elected a mayor whose early acts upon taking office included eliminating practically the entire arts budget for the city, including parks department and support for the Arts Council. But somehow the city managed to come up with big bucks to host the Super Bowl at a huge loss. Our decisions have consequences. We get the government we deserve.
  • Yes!
    If the art museum can raise money for their endowment, so should the ISO be able to do so.
  • A Closed-Door Destruction of a Great Orchestra
    I understand that the ISO has had financial troubles and needs to do something. What I don't understand is why the ISO management would seek to make such a drastic change to the status of the city's orchestra without engaging the community. The musicians have done the city a service by bringing this proposal to light, and an answer from management of "No Comment" is not adequate. Having a great orchestra is too important to the psyche of the city and its attractiveness as a place to live and do business to take such an action. And to make such a cut in quality for a few million dollars a year is beyond belief. What we need now is leadership from the city and its civic leaders to convene and find a way to find the money that they need to keep a great orchestra in Indianapolis.
  • Bill's comment highlights the problem
    If it is true, as Bill asserts, that America's wealthy may rightfully simply hole up in their posh compounds and abdicate any sense of social responsibility, then we have truly lost our way as a nation, and the decline of our social fabric, of which arts organizations such as the ISO are a vital part, is as inevitable as death and taxes. The superrich of 100 years ago may have had "selfish" motivations for their philanthropy, but the fact that they gave is what made this country great.
  • A Message to ISO Management
    I propose a deal: Currently I buy ISO tickets individually, when concerts appeal to me. If management drops their counterproductive plan to slash the season and player pay, I will procure a full classical season subscription. Will others do the same?
  • AMEN to George Daugherty
    Since I could not possibly say as well or add to Mr. Daugherty's comments which capture my thoughts and feelings on this mater so well, let me just thank him for publicly making these astute comments.
  • Overspent their endowment
    This comes as no big shock to me. The administration of the ISO, like many other big nonprofits in the city, relied too much on their endowments during the down economy rather than finding ways to streamline operations and reduce overhead costs. The inability to have a functioning development team and CEO only highlight the Symphony's problems. I'm thankful that a community our size has a full-time orchestra (...I think we're actually the smallest MSA with a FT orchestra?)...and feel for the musicians in this situation.
  • Executive Board & Management making demands NOT Musicians
    The Executive Board Committee members and Management are trying to impose these outlandish demands on the musicians; it is not the ISO per se that is making such proposals. The cuts would go beyond the money now needed to get the orchestra in the black. Of course I am assuming that marketing and fundraising would be done locally and nationally, and that the development people would seek city, state and governmental grants. Every arts organization requires outside funding to stay afloat and all citizens benefit from the ISO both culturally and financially. Schoolchildren benefit from mini-concerts in the theater and by musicians visiting individual classrooms. The current generation of executive board members and the ISO management are the ones not performing their duties properly. An outrageous analogy is that a friend of mine broke her arm in Latvia and the doctors' there wanted to amputate. Back home they simply fixed it. Let's not jump to performing radical surgery before assessing what can be done without ruining a world-class orchestra. Indianapolis is already struggling to attract and maintain many of the best and brightest minds at home and struggling to recruit for the best and brightest worldwide. Let us not take away one of our greatest resources. Thank you. Joe D.
  • response to BillAugust 28, 2012 5:08 PM
    Bill - I don't disagree with your points or those of others about the obligation of the ISO or any other development-dependent organization to be efficient, effective, and relevant. My points were to a broader point and I apologize if that wasn't clear. I hope that potential supporters will come back when the ISO gets its house in order, markets better, puts out more accessible product, etc., but I fear that the lack of support is also part of a larger trend away from a shared sense of community, tradition, and institutions, and that we reject these things at our peril.
  • Save the ISO
    There are serious budget and capital issues that need to be addressed to save the ISO. One question that I have not seen addressed is saturation. Does the opening of the new Palladium and the fact that the ISO performs there as well impact ticket sales and support for the ISO? Do some of those patrons that have graciously supported the ISO now look at supporting the new Carmel Symphony? Just like Nordstom, a second store spelled doom for the downtown store.
  • Travesty
    This is a travesty! Deeply slashing size, season, and pay could well lead to the end of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Rather than being dedicated to maintaining the legacy and vision of the ISO, it appears that the Indiana State Symphony Society is intent on destroying not just the Orchestra’s artistic integrity and reputation, but its ability to thrive and perform at anywhere near the level it has for past decades. With energetic, incisive, and visionary leadership, other cities in much worse financial straits have turned their orchestra budgets around, even during the recession. The ISO will lose Urbanski, a big feather in the ISO’s cap, and possibly Jack Everly, much less many of its best musicians. Just at the moment the ISO is poised to take an artistic step forward, the Society looks to be committing suicide. The people of greater Indianapolis deserve better than this. They will end up being the biggest losers if this plan goes forward.
  • Bad Management
    It appears ISO management lacks imagination. The proposal to cut performances is similar to the Indianapolis Opera management's decision to reduce productions: audiences will forget about you and your product if you don't present them with the goods regularly. The IO now is putting on fewer opera productions, and as a result it gets harder for audiences, media, and others to remember that its still there. The ISO shouldn't follow this self-detructive path.
  • Bravo George!
    It's time for the community leaders purse holders to pony up. Glick, Lilly, Lacy, Basile, Irsay, Simon, Efromson, etc.,you know the names. Heck, the Beverly Hilberts kicked in $10mil (thank God the check cleared) and got naming rights. Now instead of building monuments to themselves or empty cultural walkways , they need to help bolster a jewel that has real value to the community. The "arts leaders" who control the big $$ funds need to step up with a check to bail out some really bad decisions in a bad economy and right the ship.
  • The ISO is a world treasure which must be preserved.
    I am an Indiana-born-and-raised symphony orchestra conductor who has been lucky to conduct the greatest orchestras in the world -- Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, The Royal Philharmonic, The Sydney Symphony -- about 50 or so others -- and The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. So I am in a somewhat unique position to be able to say, from the personal experience of standing right in the middle of the conductor's podium, that The ISO is not only one of America's greatest symphony orchestras, but also one of the world's greatest musical treasures. If Indianapolis allows this world-class orchestra to become a part-time ensemble of 63 players (which is not even large enough to play major orchestral repertoire), Indianapolis will be losing more than just The ISO -- Indiana polis will be losing a huge part of its heart, soul, and identity. It would be a cultural tragedy of unparalleled proportions for Indianapolis and Indiana. I'm sending all my warmest thoughts to my ISO friends and colleagues, and I fervently hope that orchestra management and city leaders come quickly to their senses. It is surreal that I recently read that some Indy leaders have already decided that Lucas Oil Stadium is "too small" to be competitive for another Super Bowl, and that a larger facility should be contemplated . . . and yet, the city seems not to have the will to support this bona fide cultural treasure a few block away on The Circle? A GREAT city has a GREAT symphony orchestra. It is simply a "quality of life" issue. It has long been established in the international music world that The ISO is a great orchestra. It will be telling, however, as to whether Indianapolis is truly a great city (or not) in how the city responds to this cultural crisis. And Indianapolis -- if you want to see your future, look down I-65 to Louisville, where another great orchestra was forced to its knees, and into a highly-reduced status. Is that what you really want, Indy? I stood by my colleagues in Louisville, and I will certainly stand by my colleagues at The ISO -- which is the orchestra which first taught me to love classical music as a child, and which has given me unparalleled joy when I have conducted it as an adult. There are dozens of things which could be stated at this point, as to HOW a great full-time symphony orchestra contributes to the economic and cultural well-being of a major city, beyond the obvious direct fiscal effects of ticket sales. And many, including me, will state these points in the future. But for this moment, I can only hope that the horrendous contemplative prospect of losing -- or diluting -- this truly international-class performing arts ensemble will be enough to shock Indianapolis music lovers -- and all Hoosiers -- into immediate action to save Indiana's greatest cultural treasure. George Daugherty, Orchestra Conductor (and Indiana Governor's Arts Award Winner, 1999)
    • Don't save money on shoes by cutting off your feet!
      This is an ensemble of nearly unparalleled talent, with misguided management, in a city where too small a sector of the population really "gets" it. That is also a fault of the elite of the city, those sitting on the board of trustees because they have the power to protect the interests of the orchestra. They are not doing the job enTRUSTed to them if they can allow such a proposal to fly. A cut like this WILL reduce this orchestra (or any orchestra, as we have seen across the country) to a shadow of itself, as the power of the ensemble fades and talent is hemorrhaged out of the orchestra and the city. If you-- the board, the management, the city of Indianapolis-- accept this resolution (I cannot call it a solution), you will have FAILED. You will have lost a city on the threshold of greatness its crown jewel. The steady quality of the ISO and the worldwide respect it has garnered for the city are worth far more than, for example, self-serving sports franchises with better marketing strategies and little loyalty to their ostensible hometown (I'm looking at you, Jim Irsay)-- and this is coming from a Colts fan. If a city can possibly justify having two successive NFL stadiums and an NBA fieldhouse on the long-term budget, surely the same reasoning must apply to supporting (even on a much smaller scale) its world-class cultural institutions. Your citizens benefit, directly and indirectly, from keeping the ISO at full strength. Please do what you can to save this great orchestra!
    • Slippery Slope
      I fear the beginning of the end. The board's actions can only result in a decline of the orchestra and diminish the revenue realized from a faithful audience following. The course of action by the board exhibits a lack of creativity and a total lack of appreciation for what past board have built up in the form of a highly talented and professional symphony. A black mark on their tenure as a board but I fear this will not make a difference in how they move forward. What took years to build they will tear down in the coming months.
    • When you cut arts from public schools...
      We are now seeing the results of the last few decades' cuts to arts in the public schools. The current generation of school board members, CEOs and COOs, and the general adult population with disposable income, all come from the generations that have been taught that classical music is boring, unnecessary, and irrelevant to their lives. These are the people who end up on symphony boards, in management jobs, and are the ones buying tickets. And now they are making decisions that will affect the culture of the entire community based on that.
    • Terrible News
      The orchestra is a part of Indianapolis and has been for a long time. It's something that brings entertainment and most importantly culture to the city. Indianapolis is a growing city and the orchestra is something to be proud of. There needs to be support for the arts and our musicians. This proposal would deliver a devastating blow to the orchestra and the people of Indianapolis should not allow this to happen.
    • What's your vision?
      It's simple. If you want a first-rate orchestra, you won't hobble it with short-sighted cuts. Once you cut the number of players, the number of weeks, you can no longer lay great repertoire, you no longer attract top musicians, and nobody can support a family on what this board wants to pay. You want quality, you can't get it cheap. No great orchestra has ever supported itself. This is an area where the bottom line should not apply. It is not cost-effective to have a great orchestra, but it is a great accomplishment for a city that wants to be great.
    • Devastating news!!
      So sad to hear about this development! Indianapolis shouldn't allow this to happen! This is the first step to having no Symphony and no culture! It is a compromise with the soul of society, therefore such cannot exist without an outcome of community without values and complete degradation! Management of the ISO and the donors of this city, don't allow it! Other major cities and Symphonies were in financial trouble too, but they managed to save the institution, the musicians and the heritage. Don't fall behind! Indy deserves it!!
    • Not an arts town? Not true.
      Brian (and maybe others), using this as an excuse to brand Indy as "not an arts town" is a gross distortion. Problems with foundational support of orchestras are severe across the country. Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra has encountered similar problems (if not worse ones)--is it because they aren't an "arts town"? The situations in Louisville and Columbus have also been pretty dire in recent years. Even when the Circle Theatre is at full capacity--which it frequently is--the biggest source of revenue is going to be the big players and corporate donors.
    • Re:
      If the orchestra became part-time, I don't know if they would necessarily lose many players and become a lower-tier orchestra- it's not likely that the members would leave and join a higher-tier full-time orchestra.
      • priorities and affordability
        Sadly, the only times I've gone to the symphony is when accompanying students on field trips, when I've been given tickets that someone couldn't use, when I've won tickets, (to Mozart Requiem, which brought tears to my eyes hearing the soloists), or, when attending with my own student, and sitting in the front row (cheaper seats). It is extremely difficult for me to budget tickets for myself, let alone family members, to symphony concerts, as much as I would have liked that to be part of their lives. We don't attend sporting events, either, because they price out the average joe. Even though I've not attended regularly, I'm proud of Indianapolis to have a full-time orchestra.
      • Susan
        The sky is not falling tomorrow. The drastic, devastating proposal by management is premature. Indianapolis absolutely needs and deserves a *full time* orchestra. Surely a reasonable agreement can be reached which will preserve the integrity of the organization and keep these amazing musicians here.
      • Guest Artists
        DannyO, the symphony has actually had guest artists for years. Last november they had Ben Folds with the ISO which was pretty awesome. All these performances typically sell out but keep in mind they're also very expensive to produce and aren't going to prop up the ISOs budget on their own.
      • Please excuse the typo.
        Please excuse the typo.
      • Marketing Versus Promotion
        I'd like to commend Richard for a very astute observation...the ISO has not had done any true marketing for years. Sales promotions and short-term manipulations to "get butts in seats" is not a marketing plan, yet that was the sole province of ISO "marketing." These types of manipulations alienate customers who, as Richard rightly pointed out, "paid full price." They also work against subscription efforts because these promotions effectively devalue the symphony brand...who is going to pay for a full season subscription if they know that tickets are going to be lowered to $28 for the conductor's birthday and other stupid reasons. The marketing of the ISO was amateurish and ham handed and reflect an absolute lack of understanding. This, along with a succession of effectively part-time, absentee music directors since the departure of Maestro Leppard have really hurt the ISO's ability to connect with its base audience as well as potential patrons and corporate sponsors. The world-class musicians on the Hilbert stage are not the problem. They've not had an effective pay increase in 9 years. An interim management that has its hands full despite a valient effort and an effectively clueless board of directors that is more interested in resume padding and self aggrandizement that responsibly managing the symphony are causing this one. I think management should accept the musicians offer to play under their old contract for yet another season while the ISO gets is operational act together and then sit down with a committed board of directors that actually understands why a full-time symphony orchestra is more important than a week of Super Bowl parties.
        • Needs a shot in the arm
          I have attended many performances at ISO and found the majority boring as heck. Not the musician's fault but it may be time to reinvent the whole direction of the organization. Keep them full time but add in things that attract younger audiences like they do at the Prairie concerts. Keep it fresh, entertaining and do a "crossroads" kind of thing with guest artists. Can you imagine Carlos Santana with the ISO? Wild idea...yes but that may be what it takes. It's a different world now and there are two generations avoiding the same old same old symphony
        • Indy is not an arts town
          Look at the overall state of the arts in Indianapolis, it's clear the population as a whole does not have an appetite for the arts, which is sad... the arts bring so much more to a community than just the performance. Having been on the inside, I can tell you the ISO's fundraising staff worked VERY hard to bring money in... again, it's the population that keeps the arts alive
          • Fix Management before Destroying an Institution
            As a long time supporter of the ISO, I am actually shocked by this news. A part-time orchestra will result in a second-class orchestra which will have even greater challenges staying afloat. I am not sure what $100 million capital campaign this article is talking about. There was more effort that went into writing this article than went into promoting the capital campaign. I firmly believe that the ISO should take three actions. First, actually put forth fundraising efforts to bridge the current budget issues. Second, work with the musicians and entertain their offer. Finally and most importantly, embrace your volunteers and supporters changing the climate that existed under recently departed management. If the city can financially assist the Colts and Pacers year after year, city government should make an effort to assist with short-term issues while long-term solutions are sought.
            • Horns and Horses
              You just can't avoid the painful comparison of the ISO's situation to that of the Colts. On the one hand, a modicum of community effort and energy is made to keep the symphony. On the other hand, all heaven and earth is moved to meet every, or nearly every need of the professional football team. Sad and shameful.
            • Fund Raising?
              Perhaps it's time that the symphony gets a better fundraising staff? The people in the orchestra are wold class players. Surely the symphony could obtain some world class fundraisers.
              • Noooooooooooooooooo
                Please, let's figure out a way to avoid going to a part-time symphony. I can just see all our talented musicians trying to bail to other cities if they can't make a living here. That is just going to gut the quality of the performances. And allow for the disintegration of the life-long relationships these musicians have with out community.
              • Your Path
                It seems that those in Indy are looking to model after other orchestras that have gone part-time, reduced musicians and cut to grow. Just look South on I-65 to Louisville. That's not a model I would be following.
              • Such a sad situation
                I am so saddened to hear of these potential pay cuts to our musicians. Musicians can never stop practicing; they must always be at the top of their game, because there is always someone waiting in the wings to take their place. Now these musicians are at risk of losing the security that a professional orchestra provides. It will be a great loss to Indianapolis if the symphony becomes a part time ensemble. I do believe that the management has played a part in causing this crisis, and I think in particular the marketing has been quite bad. Over the past few seasons, the symphony has actually discouraged people from buying season tickets, because the symphony always has promotions through out the year that allow one to buy tickets for a much lower cost than a subscription. Last year, there was the Black Monday deal, which offered tickets for almost all concerts for only $12! I don't know about other people, but I'd be ticked off if I payed $48+ for my seat, and the guy next to me payed only $12. I would subscribe if I knew I was getting the best possible deal. I understand why the symphony has promotions, but I think the symphony really hurt its base by providing such deep discounts.
                • Why is the union's proposal not given serious consideration?
                  A part time orchestra is not a professional orchestra. The next step would likely be to eliminate the orchestra all together. Is Indianapolis really so indifferent to its orchestra or were the Symphony fundraisers inept?
                • Why is the union's proposal not given serious consideration?
                  A part time orchestra is not a professional orchestra. The next step would likely be to completely eliminate the orchestra. Are Indianapolis citizens really so uninterested in their orchestra or were the orchestra fundraisers ineffective?
                  • Why is the union's proposal not given serious consideration?
                    A part time orchestra is no longer a professional orchestra. The next step will likely be to completely close it down.
                  • To Griffin
                    I agree with the skill set of the musicians and their value, I agree that the city paying for football is wasteful, I agree with the bad management notes..... but at the end of the day, we cannot look to government to fill the coffers of a local business, period. They shouldn't do it with football, and they shouldn't do it here. Regardless of the value of those musicians, if the ISO can't connect the fiscal dots, don't ask government to pick up the tab or blame the wealthy for not donating. If the musicians don't want the pay cut, they can go elsewhere and the business fails. If the public at large isn't supporting it, then maybe it shouldn't be saved by government.
                  • Not Good
                    Apologies in advance for my language. This is a damn shame.
                  • Super Math
                    The city realized very little actual monetary gain from the Super Bowl. Very little of the money actually stays in the city (hotel chains, restaurant chains and Super vendors take the bulk of it with them when they leave). And we're still spending money after the fact to shore up the infrastructure/mess left after the game. The arts bring more than half a billion dollars to Indiana. Every year. A full-time symphony attracts business. New residents. It's part of what makes a city a real city. We fall all over ourselves so that Indy doesn't come across as a second-tier city and then something like this happens. I'm from Pittsburgh...I know what a real city is...and when I see something like this it just confirms for me that Indianapolis ain't there yet.
                  • Math overly simplified
                    The musicians haven't had a pay increase - effectively - in 9 years. The problem hasn't been that the musicians are overpaid. It's never been that. There have been a succession of very bad management decisions, horrible marketing, disengaged absentee music directors...none of which are the musician's fault. They are effectively making what they made in 2003 as each successive contract has taken them back to the base salary of the previous contract. Is Andew Luck overpaid? There are more starting QB in the NFL than there are principal cellists in full-time orchestras, nationwide. The average symphony musician has been studying since the age of 8 and has at least a master's degree in performance. We're not talking your local high school band here...you're talking about professionals who have studied more to get where they are than most brain surgeons. You're talking about professionals who are part of a half-billion dollar annual industry and that bring more attention to this city as a home, or a business location, than any Super Bowl. This isn't the case of greedy musicians not wanting to do their part...this is the case of inept management that has gone unchecked for almost a decade. The city needs to step up. The state needs to step up. Patrons and supporters need to join the likes of Lilly and Marsh and patrons like Christel DeHaan and get behind their symphony...one of the few like it left in America. I agree with earlier posts...put the money in the symphony and let's bag the Stupid Bowl talk.
                    • Not so simple math
                      Simple math would also tell you no one needs millions of dollars to play a game. A world class symphony ceases to become one when the artists only work part-time. I love the Pacers and Colts but a city that so desperately wants to be taken seriously as a "world class city" can not let this happen.
                    • Yes JT, it is the fault of the wealthy, of course
                      It is no more the responsibility of the wealthy to prop up an ailing institution than it is for the taxpayers to purchase an office for a private sports team. Neither would be right and it is unfortunate that one was done and the other is being suggested. JT, wake up, it is not the responsibility of a person with money to give it away to an institution so that "others" as you infer can enjoy that institution. Sure, it is nice when people donate money to such worthwhile causes as the symphony, but it is not their responsibility and to chide them for it is simply cynical. The orchestra needs to organize their own books, cut their employees pay and reduce their back office staff. What Mike noted earlier is correct, they have already sliced their office staff. Time for the other employees, the musicians, to sack up.
                      • It doesn't add up.
                        This would be a horrible loss for Indianapolis. Someone mentioned the amount of money spent luring the Superbowl to Indianapolis and how that could have better funded an arts organization like the Symphony. I'm not agreeing with the expenditure, but more seats were filled at our one Superbowl game than were filled by Symphony attendees (most likely) in the last 5 years. It casts a broader net. One thing I don't understand is why the Symphony would pay Simon Crookall (or any failing CEO) such a huge wage is beyond me. How about compensation based on performance. Would you pay a manager in your company $265,262 annually for not performing well? I also read that the Symphony artists have pension packages. Come on, it's 2012, no company can afford to offer pensions now.
                        • Predictable
                          This should not be a surprise. The wealth of our city, like the wealth of our nation, is increasingly concentrated in the hands of people with no need for or interest in things that benefit the community at large, like symphonies, public schools, roads, safe neighborhoods, clean air and water, etc. It used to be that those to whom much was given understood that much was owed to the communities in which they lived, not only as repayment for benefits received, but as an investment in sustainable social cohesion. That the ISO still exists is a testament to those who retain this sense of responsibility. Unfortunately, their numbers are dwindling, and the effect of the abdication of responsibility by too many of the wealthy will come to swallow far more than the ISO.
                          • The 1% can buy their own private orchestras
                            This should not be a surprise. The wealth of our city, like the wealth of our nation, is increasingly concentrated in the hands of people with no need for or interest in things that benefit the community at large, like symphonies, public schools, roads, safe neighborhoods, clean air and water, etc. It used to be that those to whom much was given understood that much was owed to the communities in which they lived, not only as repayment for benefits received, but as an investment in sustainable social cohesion. That the ISO still exists is a testament to those who retain this sense of responsibility. Unfortunately, their numbers are dwindling, and the effect of the abdication of responsibility by too many of the wealthy will come to swallow far more than the ISO.
                          • Simple Math
                            Musicians take a pay cut, ticket prices rise slightly, office staff is reduced. Sounds simple right? As far as I know, the last two items have occurred. Time for the musicians to step up, realize the economy and it's impact on the endowment is real and that means people either take pay cuts or loose their jobs. Quit rallying behind the me-me-me mentality of a union protecting wages. Taking a short and relatively small decrease in pay to ultimately end up at a 1% discount after 5 years is no solution. The endowment dipped much more than that, and so should the pay of the employees.
                            • I so agree
                              George Evans, you said it!
                            • This would be tragic
                              I agree with all of the above comments. I love sports AND I love the arts. We've lost any resemblance of a ballet company, our modern dance company (arguably one of the best in the nation) is struggling for funds, and all we really have is this fantastic WORLD CLASS orchestra. Hellooooo? WORLD CLASS ORCHESTRA! I agree - the city can fall over on sports and arenas and find crazy dollar amounts to fund (i.e. a fairly new Lucas Oil Stadium that was in the STAR recently as too small ALREADY by NFL standards to hold another Super Bowl.....)....BUT we cannot find dollars for a jewel of this city. Do people realize our conductors and our symphony are on the radio around the world? One of the best. Why has my 12 year old begged to play violin since he was little. Because I took him to Symphony on the Prairie so he could hear what he deamed "happy music". I am not a musician. I am not a big benefactor. I'm a normal middle class person who is saying: Indianapolis CAN DO BETTER FOR OUR SYMPHONY!
                            • Full Time Symphony More Important Than A Super Bowl.
                              You mean to tell me in a city that falls all over itself and spends millions of dollars to get a Super Bowl for one week or so every 8 years (or so) that proper support can't be drummed up for a symphony orchestra that is the crown jewel of an arts scene that generates more than $500 million in revenue per year for the State of Indiana? Ask Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore or Philadelphia which they'd rather have...a Super Bowl or a full time symphony orchestra and I think there would be no question...their symphonies are part of what put them on the map as "real" cities; part of a cultural fabric that makes them world-class destinations and places to live and places to do business. The Indianapolis Symphony has played Carnegie Hall. It's played the concert halls of Europe to great acclaim. It has brought more attention to Indianapolis and Indiana than any Super Bowl ever could possibly hope to. That years of questionable management, poor marketing and a succession of absentee music directors is being allowed to hurt this orchestra is untenable. Sponsors like Marsh and Lilly and Exact Target get it...why doesn't the city or state who spent more on side dishes for Super Bowl parties than they spend on their full-time symphony orchestra? No question this needs to be fixed...but gutting an Indiana treasure isn't the way to do it.
                              • A Wagnerian tragedy...
                                A reduction in our great symphony would be a tragedy of the highest order, and I hope that it does not come to fruition. Our symphony is in the exciting position of having a well-regarded, young, energetic director. Our community must gather to support the symphony so that it survives this. To do anything else would be to lose the artistic soul of our community.
                              • bad news
                                I've seen this before in other cities and it was inevitably the beginning of the end of those orchestras.

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