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As Dallas Symphony "Struggles" to Balance Art and Economy, Musicians Get a New Deal

As Dallas Symphony "Struggles" to Balance Art and Economy, Musicians Get a New Deal

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has spent the last year trying to balance its books and fill its coffers, going so far as to launch last fall The Great Orchestra Campaign intended to raise a quick $50 million. The process continues: Per a press release dispatched by the DSO today, management has "cut over $1 million from its 2011-12 budget, including the elimination of staff positions and a staff wage freeze." It had to be done -- especially because, in the midst of putting together its budget, the DSO also had to come to terms with its musicians, without whom, well, there'd be no DSO -- and who haven't gotten a raise since 2007.

Four months of contract negotiations later, a deal's been struck. According to the Labor Day announcement:

"Musician wages will remain level during the first year and will increase by less than 1% the following year. With a base musician salary of approximately $90,000, the Dallas Symphony ranks 11th in base salary among leading American orchestras, while performing in the nation's ninth largest city and fourth largest Metroplex."

In the prepared release, DSO principal trombonist and SMU Adjunct Associate Professor of Trombone John Kitzman says the deal's music to his ears. "While DSO musicians have taken a wage freeze for the past four years, we understood the economic realities and worked with management to find a solution that would not compromise the artistic excellence of our fine orchestra," he says. "This agreement demonstrates the orchestra's commitment to bring the very best music to the city of Dallas for generations to come." Jump for the whole symphony.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Ratifies New Musician Contract

Two-Year Agreement Balances Artistic Excellence with Financial Realities

Dallas, TX (Sept. 5, 2011) - The Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and its musicians announced today a new two-year contract between the DSO and members of Local 72-147 of the American Federation of Musicians. The new contract takes effect October 1, 2011 and runs through August 31, 2013.

This contract is the result of more than four months of negotiations focused on maintaining artistic excellence, while balancing financial prudence in the face of difficult economic realities. In tandem, the DSO recently cut over $1 million from its 2011-12 budget, including the elimination of staff positions and a staff wage freeze.

"The DSO musicians' committee and management team really came together for the greater good of our organization and community, and I am grateful for this shared commitment and hard work," said Blaine Nelson, board chair-elect of the Dallas Symphony. "This is a responsible settlement that will maintain our artistic integrity as we continue to evaluate new strategic and financial options."

"While DSO musicians have taken a wage freeze for the past four years, we understood the economic realities and worked with management to find a solution that would not compromise the artistic excellence of our fine orchestra," said John Kitzman, DSO principal trombonist and chairman of the musicians' Orchestra Committee. "This agreement demonstrates the orchestra's commitment to bring the very best music to the city of Dallas for generations to come."

According to the agreement, musician wages will remain level during the first year and will increase by less than 1% the following year. With a base musician salary of approximately $90,000, the Dallas Symphony ranks 11th in base salary among leading American orchestras, while performing in the nation's ninth largest city and fourth largest Metroplex.

"Like so many cultural organizations around the country, the Dallas Symphony struggles to balance our artistic aspirations with the economic challenges," said David Hyslop, DSO interim president and CEO since May 2011. "Given my years of experience in orchestra negotiations, I knew that both sides needed to give some in order to make this work. The agreement speaks volumes about the Dallas Symphony's commitment to each other as an institution and to the Dallas community. Both sides are to be commended for how they worked together in this difficult process."


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