Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra cancels indoor season due to pandemic, ‘economic pressures’

(Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra)

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has scrapped its entire 2020-21 indoor concert season at Hilbert Circle Theatre, citing both the pandemic and “unforeseen economic pressures.”

The orchestra’s management team and musicians announced the cancellation in a joint statement on Friday afternoon. In May, the ISO cancelled its last three Hilbert Circle Theatre concerts of its 2019-20 season and the entire Symphony on the Prairie season at Conner Prairie.

“Although we will not be able to bring you the performances we had planned, we are committed to collaboratively exploring creative ways to continue to connect with our patrons and return to performing if conditions allow,” the joint statement read.

The cancellation presumably includes the orchestra’s wildly popular Yuletide series of concerts staged throughout the holiday season.

Before the pandemic, the organization had 72 musicians and 54 full-time employees. In April, it announced that it had furloughed its 72 musicians and laid off about half of its staff.

The ISO received funding through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which it used to pay musicians 75% of their normal salaries for eight weeks. But that support ended June 7, and another round of furloughs started that day.

News of the scrubbed 2020-21 season comes as the musicians near the end of their existing three-year contract on Sept. 6. In June, the leader of the orchestra committee publicly called out ISO management for the lack of contract negotiations and the loss of health insurance due to furloughs.

James Johnson, CEO of the ISO, told IBJ that leaders of the organization did have conversations with the musicians about health insurance coverage in April and that the parties had reached an agreement months earlier that outlined what everyone could expect through Sept. 6.

Friday’s joint statement indicated the sides would be working together to address health insurance going forward.

“We will also be meeting to discuss how the musicians will be supported in the interim, with a priority on providing health insurance for the musicians and their families,” the statement read.

Contacted by IBJ, Roger Roe, an ISO oboe player and elected representative for the musicians, said he had “nothing to add at this time” to the joint statement.

“The pandemic only heightens our shared resolve to assure the ISO is positioned to provide the most transformational and impactful programs for our community,” the statement read. “The progress made during these discussions is a promising step in reemerging and in re-imagining the ISO’s long-term future. The ISO management and musicians are committed to working together to build a vibrant, thriving ISO and look forward to returning to the concert stage.”

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16 thoughts on “Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra cancels indoor season due to pandemic, ‘economic pressures’

  1. All these lost jobs are Donald Trumps fault. If he had taken COVID seriously at the beginning and not disbanded his pandemic team in 2018 and pull the CDC out of China the economy would be back.

    Instead incompetent Trump lied to us and cared only about his re-election.

    There has never been a more corrupt president.

    Seriously I don’t know how you sheep keep supporting him.

    1. Mark B I want some of what your smoking. If you think China was honest with their numbers you are certainly gullible. The governor’s demanding the federal government do something then when they di they scream he can’t because it violates their states rights.

    2. As a braying sheep who didn’t support him in 2016–but don’t plan to make the same mistake this time around–it’s always amazing to me to hear 100% responsibility laid at the feds and none at the country that caused the world economy to grind to a halt. Yet if you say “it came from China” on many news sources, you get banned! Unreal and hilarious, and proof that many commenters here aren’t willing to make good faith arguments.
      I don’t think the POTUS has done an amazing job on this. But he delegated powers to the states, recognizing (correctly) that some regions of the country would get hit more heavily than others. And the state governors then had considerably authority to exercise judgment and resources in their respective hotspots. And if you look at state death rates, it certainly appears that governors who placed COVID patients in nursing homes have some explaining to do: the governors of Michigan and New York have some of the nation’s highest death rate. But the TDS suffers quite conveniently block this out….just as they block out the abundant evidence that hospitals are receiving subsidies to report COVID deaths, even when there are co-morbidities. The numbers are almost certainly artificially high, perhaps by several multiples, and we have so many “cases” because we have the wealth and organization to roll out lots of tests. Ever wonder why the third world (not Brazil or India, who have great hospitals, but Tanzania and Laos and Haiti, which do not) have such low COVID cases and deaths? Because a) they don’t have the money for all that testing and b) in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a serious enough disease to even register on their charts. It’s not Ebola, it’s not the plague, and it’s a far cry from the Spanish flu of 1918. But the media won’t tell us this because it’s not the political narrative they want us to ingest. Too bad. It could save a lot of grief as well as economic hardship.

  2. I can only imagine, but no I actually can’t, the breadth and depth of what we are losing as a society and culture because of this pandemic and the ineptitude of how it has been handled by our “government”. Every individual loss, whether life, livelihood, or quality of life, was preventable had the proper attention been paid and actions taken. And because education is undergoing traumatic chaos, again blame goes to those at the “helm”, our children and grandchildren have diminished opportunities.

  3. “Trump’s fault”. LOL. I remember March when people like the Marks said just quarantine for 14 days so we can get this over with, and don’t touch your Amazon box because it lives in cardboard for 3 weeks cause science says so

  4. Look we have a clown among us. Alexander m. He wants to paint the entire Republican Party as corrupt and failed; does that imply that those who r Republicans should paint the entire Democratic Party is dishonest, incompetent and leaderless. Liberal elites like Alexander m should think 2x before heading down rabbit holes. Maybe review the last 120 days in our country?

  5. Disagree 100% with Trump comments. And have we asked ourselves; are we “over reacting”????

    I just read the IBJ”S numbers on Marion Co. Marion Co has over 13,000 positive cases. Hamilton has around 2,000 and surrounding counties less. And they have NOT had a mask mandate until the Governor’s mandate.

    This is not Trump’s fault – nor is the “reaction” – his fault.

    Just hope the 500 can run with spectators.

  6. I think everyone has forgotten who planted the Virus ? I dont see how anyone but God could stop the Virus without a proven vaccine. We live in a society where everyone blames people they disagree with for everything. I wear a mask but have no scientific evidence it prevents anything. We all spread germs & viruses all the time and no one ever acted like they are today. Other diseases that spread kill people at a hirer rate than covin 19 and no one seem to care. Unlike other countries our Constitution doesn’t allow any one person the authority to dictate everything and anything even the President or Governor from any Party. We need more prayer and less finger pointing.