30 September, 2AM
To comment on this entry, click here.
I just got home from performing a concert and having a post-concert dinner out and I don’t have time to write much, but I thought I’d leave this here for any morning viewers. (Because I am sleeping in tomorrow! woohoo!)
Mn Orch musicians reject management proposal as SPCO bosses reject contract extension – 29 September, MPR
Minn. Orchestra Musicians Reject Contract – 29 September, CBS Minnesota
Musicians vote down contract proposal – 29 September, Star Tribune
Also, I see someone found this blog today looking for “minnesota orchestra musicians.org 100 questions”. Was it management? Helloooooooooo! Management! We’ve got tea brewing for you! Come back!
The eve of the apocalypse seems as good a time for ever for me to repeat something I haven’t said for a while, and that’s I’m pre-emptively sorry. I’m sorry to anyone I’ve hurt, offended, mis-characterized, misjudged, misunderstood, during the course of the whole fiasco. Unlike certain members of management (cough), I don’t view myself as an infallible human being (since, you know, I’m not). I’m viewing this whole mess from the sidelines via Internet reports, and I obviously don’t have the whole story (stories?). (To be fair, I’ve acknowledged that from the very beginning.) I’m also very upset right now. I’m in music because of the example these people have set for me. I haven’t met most of them, and yet they’re some of the most influential people in my life. And of course anyone who sees their heroes being threatened immediately gets testy and defensive, sometimes unreasonably so. (I’m sure even Michael Henson, Dobson West, Jon Campbell, and Richard Davis would!) A certain lack of perspective in such a situation is sadly inevitable. I also tend to lash out with sarcasm when I’m pissed, and then come to regret it later. Soooo, if you ever think I’m flying off the handle, please be clear and say so, and pull me aside and tell me that I need to take a step back for a bit. I’d appreciate that. I’d appreciate it even more if you could do it politely, because my nerves are rather frayed right now. Thank you kindly, darlings. I’ll try my best to keep my temper under control and to stay open to all respectful, reasonable positions.
I also want to remind people that as this conflict gets more and more and more (and more) technical over the coming weeks (months?), I’m going to be less and less and less (and less) qualified to understand what’s really going on. (Only someone with the qualifications of, say, Drew McManus will be able to read the tea leaves with any authority, and that will likely be difficult even for him, since he’s just as much of an outsider to this situation as I am.) So remember to take everything I say with not just a grain of salt, but with a salt mine, as I said in an earlier entry. I started this blogging project a month ago knowing absolutely nothing about how orchestra contracts are negotiated. Although I’ve been dropped into an intense crash course on orchestral politics, and I’ve learned a lot in a short amount of time, I still don’t know a tremendous amount about how the whole labyrinthine system works, and so I’m learning as I go along. (Embarrassingly publicly, as it turns out…) But I hope you’ll be patient and come along with me, anyway. Experts out there, feel free to weigh in. The comment section is always open. As these situations get more and more complicated and emotional, I’d like for this blog to be less me blabbing and offering my snarky profane non-expert opinion, and more of a place for concerned patrons to gather and discuss and ponder in a reasonable intelligent way…since management has sadly refused to provide such a place for us. The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra website can’t really be much of a clearinghouse, either, for obvious reasons.
(Which isn’t to say I won’t resist sharing my opinions. Surely y’all know by now I’m incapable of not sharing opinions! )
More of those non-expert opinions thoughts tomorrow. Hope you had sweet dreams last night. It’s 2AM here, so probably time for me to head to bed. I’m hoping for dreams of a happy resolution, where we discover that the Twin Cities can somehow love and support two world-class orchestras.
To comment on this post, click here.
Not too much news yet this morning, besides this excellent blog from Drew McManus called “Keep Your Eye on the Details in Minnesota.” He notes that management’s transparency concerning their new contract is actually not very transparent at all, since there’s no old contract to compare it to. Amen. Personally I find it insulting that management thinks anything on their website clarifies anything, besides maybe the fact that they think we’re dumbshits with the reasoning capabilities of five-year-olds. (Idle question: do you think Mr. McManus’s blog will appear under “Industry News”? Or is his blog not as reputable as the anonymous writer’s from the Huffington Post?) (Also: notice that under “Industry News”, management still has a link to an article, “Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians on strike”…days after Chicago came to an agreement. Apparently in Minnesota Orchestra management’s world, that strike is still bitter and ongoing. If that isn’t a blatant example of “mol[ing] the evidence to get the answer you’ve already decided you’ve got to have”, I don’t know what is.)
While I was over at his blog, I hopped over to Mr. McManus’s entry on Atlanta’s concessions, and read this about the St. Louis unrest of 2005…
For example, in St. Louis, the executive overseeing their bitter labor dispute in 2005 left shortly thereafter and following that departure labor relations, along with the organization’s overall health and vitality, began to increase.
I thought this was relevant to the Minnesota situation because a few days ago there was an article in the Star Tribune that drew parallels to the St. Louis dispute, saying that things are better now, and implying they might improve quickly in Minneapolis, too. Well, no wonder the situation is better in St. Louis; it wasn’t made clear in the Strib article that their executive departed. I’d think that before you really start healing the wound, you’d have to kill all the bacteria causing inflammation…right? (And yet Detroit didn’t change leadership after their whole fiasco. So who knows. Might be too early to tell what would be the best course of action. And obviously the situations are different at each orchestra, depending on the power structure, politics, available resources, community, etc., etc.)
Soooooooooo….once again we come around to the question: how can we hold those who are accountable for this toxic atmosphere responsible?
I wanted to share a little anecdote from my personal life… I was speaking the other day to my grandparents about what’s happening with the Minnesota Orchestra. I summarized the situation as neutrally and briefly as possible, explaining that management wanted to cut base salaries by $40,000; that management raised $100 million over the last few years for a fundraising campaign; that what they’ve said over the last couple of years about the orchestra’s financial status contradicts itself; that they are not making an effort to answer questions about those contradictions; and that they have repeatedly refused requests from their musicians for a second opinion on their financial status.
“Well, if I win the Powerball, we’ll give them money,” my grandpa said.
My grandmother’s eyes flashed. “Oh, no, we won’t! Not if they’re mismanaging their funds like that!”
If my grandparents put together the pieces in thirty seconds…might the broader public do the same thing, too…whether there’s any truth to the assumption or not?
To comment on this post, click here.
Well, this is not a day of events I’m looking forward to summarizing. And it probably will only get worse from here on out. I knew it was bad when I realized I was in the mood to listen to a lonely mournful lumberjack singing sad incomprehensible lyrics…in falsetto.
God I’m depressed. *takes swig of alcohol*
Yesterday SPCO management rejected their musicians’ proposal. Here’s the article from the Pioneer Press, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra managers reject union contract offer.
In a statement late Wednesday, Sept. 26, SPCO president Dobson West called the proposal a “very small step forward” that does not provide any material savings and places the financial burden on the orchestra’s audience and donors.
Did he really need to qualify “a step forward” with the condescending “very small”? At this point, it seems as though any small step should be considered a giant leap. Because if you’re making any kind of progress at all after nine months, frankly, that’s a miracle. This new contract is taking as much time to gestate as a human baby.
What the SPCO musicians’ contract would look like by now if it was human
While I’m on the subject of the SPCO (which I haven’t been on very often lately) I wanted to throw in my two cents about memberships: they’re ridiculously, criminally cheap. How about offering something like two months of free concerts, to see if you’d even be interested in attending, and then after that, increasing the price of a membership to $10 or $12 a month? I’m living way below the poverty line, and I’d be happy to pay $7.50 (the musicians’ offer) or $10 or $12 a month for access to world-class concerts. Honestly, I’d pay $20, but music is obviously the most important thing in my life, so I’m a skewed sample. But surely people who are really interested and invested in the orchestra, who are told that an increase in the cost of membership will go directly to keeping that orchestra intact during difficult financial times…surely those people would be willing to pony up an extra $2.50 a month? If they don’t feel invested enough in the orchestra to pay that little bit more a month…would they really then bother coming to the shows? I have a very hard time believing they would. And isn’t that the whole point of the membership program…to cultivate new audiences? Not people who come once or twice and then stop… People who come and then keep coming. People who feel invested in the quality of what’s happening onstage. People who will support the other people (also known as the “orchestra”) onstage.
I don’t feel comfortable running all the calculations on how much this proposed contract will save the SPCO because I don’t have the expertise (or time) to wade through all the numbers, but I’d be interested in seeing management’s math on that one. There’s a letter on their website about the 24 September negotiations, saying that the union’s second proposal only saved $100,000 over the three-year life of the contract, but none has been posted about the musicians’ most recent proposal. Maybe that will come later. Or maybe they’re waiting until after this weekend to unveil the numbers. I don’t know.
Also, why has Mr. West not spoken about the $1.6 - $3.2 million - not sure of the exact number - which has been made available for the 16 musician buyouts? Once again, I’m so curious to hear where that number came from, when, how, why, etc. I don’t think he’s mentioned the background on that…has he? Have you heard anything about it? Let me know if you have.
Here’s an excerpt from West’s September 7 letter:
This proposal represents a significant stretch for the Society and our donors. Our donors have spoken loud and clear: there is no additional funding available to support the status quo and in fact, current funding levels will not be sustained for the status quo. Significant additional funds will be available, however, for real transformation – an orchestra of exceptional artistic quality with our fixed expenses in line with our sustainable revenues, with the flexibility to meet a rapidly changing environment and with fair and respectful compensation for our Musicians, at rates we can afford.
I wish we could hear from these donors. I haven’t heard from them in the press, and I would very much like to. I would like to hear them explain in their own words why they feel the status quo is unsustainable, and if they feel the artistic quality of the orchestra will decrease as a result, and also their qualifications for making such assessments. I wonder if there are any large donors who are expressing concern about a possible sharp decrease in quality and cohesion…? You’d think there would be. Many small donors have.
Also, a respectful base salary for a new musician in an ensemble that aspires to be one of the greatest chamber orchestras in the world is not $50,000 a year. Especially not in a state where the median income is about $57,000. Sorry. That’s not much more than the musicians would earn if they were teaching privately full-time. Actually, with their training, they could probably make more money teaching full-time. According to this website, $50,000 is about what a subway operator, sales representative, or librarian makes a year. And no offense to those good folks, but they didn’t invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into their education and career starting at the age of five. I don’t see how you could realistically aspire to be a super-selective elite world-class musical organization while offering a salary that is not much different to one a private music teacher could make. What would keep those musicians from opting to teach…or heck, becoming very musically talented subway operators, sales representatives, or librarians?
My last hope: management in St. Paul is actually secretly willing to agree to the majority of items in this proposed contract, but they’re waiting for the next set of talks to see how much they can squeeze out before the contract deadline. And then the conflict will end and rainbows will shine and unicorns will fly. Naive? Probably. But I want good news. I’m to the point where I’m getting pissed at other people’s good news, and that’s never a good sign. Chicago Symphony ends their strike? My first grumpy thought: why can’t our strikes last a day? Referee lockout over? Minnesota management would never compromise… Teachers’ strike over? How’d they come to an agreement? What’s their secret? Lucky bastards!
Last night I read about the Atlanta Symphony musicians agreeing to the deep cuts management had proposed…and it devastated me. Especially when I went to the Atlanta Symphony’s Facebook page, and saw their breezy, wildly wildly inappropriate status update: “Let the music begin! A new contract has been ratified and the 2012-13 season will open on October 4. See you soon!” Hey, you know what, Atlanta Symphony? Fuck you! It made me wonder what the end-game in Minnesota will look like (ugly, probably), and when it will come. It’s clear that management doesn’t respect their musicians, or even understand what the word “respect” means. How can we as a community show that as passionate music lovers we do? How can we pressure all those who have treated others so rudely to go away? How can we encourage incompetent people to step down, and competent ones to step up? How can we patrons help to rebuild whatever long-term damage may result from the toxic environment that managements have so unnecessarily fostered? How do we make sure we don’t become so entrenched on the musicians’ side that we can’t recognize healthy compromise when we see it? I want to know what I can do to help. I want to keep as many of these people in the Twin Cities as I can, and I want them to have careers that are as satisfying to them as those careers are to me.
For a laugh, here’s the most useless discussion I’ve read yet about this entire fiasco. (And trust me, I’ve been in the Strib comment section, so I’ve read some useless discussion.) I mention it here solely for entertainment’s sake. It starts with the assertion that (I’m paraphrasing) “hey musicians, you’re spoiled, coddled, childish brats - but no disrespect intended!”…and it goes on from there. We hear that “when the rich have money, they give it away. When they lose money, they don’t.” This makes total sense, since according to the New York Times, in the United States, “The bottom 99% received a microscopic $80 increase in pay per person in 2010, after adjusting for inflation. The top 1 percent, whose average income is $1,019,089, had an 11.6 percent increase in income.” Yes, that certainly does explain why orchestras have been doing so well post-2010! And then we also hear that Minnesota has “canceled opening concerts due to lack of funding or, due to unresolved contract negotiations, enforced a musicians’ lockout.” Fascinating. Someone has clearly opened a portal to the future! Can I hop through to see how this all ends?? There may be some worthy points hidden deep in the essay…somewhere…but in the face of such monumentally lazy writing, I’m not keen on making the effort to dig them up. Dear commentators: if you are going to write stuff like this, or post stuff like this, please make sure the text you’re about to post is free of fundamentally basic errors. Otherwise, you lose your audience before you begin, even if you do have some good points to offer. Surely Mr. Lebrecht knows that Minnesota isn’t actually locked out (yet). If he doesn’t, that’s unsettling, because even I know what’s happening at all the major orchestras, and I don’t comment on orchestras for a living.
In an attempt to get away from all this frustrating news, I watched a couple Daily Show episodes, and watched this interview with Bill Clinton. And I was surprised to find that what he said applies, in a certain way, to this whole orchestral apocalypse. Bolds mine, obviously.
I think… Just forget about politics. Just think about any time in your life, [when] you’ve been confused or angry or frightened or resentful or anything and you didn’t know what was going on. In those moments, explanation is way more important than eloquence, and rhetoric falls on deaf ears. So the only chance I had to get anybody to really listen was to say, “Here, look, this is what I think happened - boom boom boom boom - and one of my favorite responses came from a guy, he said, I’m a conservative Republican, and I never voted for Clinton. I never even thought he was eloquent. But he treated me like a grown-up, and I appreciated that. I felt like we could sit down and have a conversation. People need to be told… The American people are plenty smart enough to figure all this out…
I think the American people take this election seriously. They know they have to make choices that will affect their lives, and it’s not very helpful if you take up their time and you don’t explain what those choices are…
So I wanted to try to explain that in simple terms. No one else would do that. No one…unless you were being driven by ideology instead of by evidence… This is a practical country. We have ideals - we have philosophies - but the problem with any ideology is that it gives the answer before you look at the evidence. So you have to mole the evidence to get the answer you’ve already decided you’ve got to have. It doesn’t work that way. Building an economy, rebuilding an economy, is hard, practical, nuts and bolt work. You have to look at what the competition is doing; you have to look at what the factors resisting growth are; you have to look at the strengths of the country. This country has enormous assets that most of our competitors don’t have…
This economics is not ideology. It’s hard work. And it’s seeing what the competition’s doing, it’s analyzing the alternatives… [Jon Stewart: Results-oriented. Merit-oriented.] Yes. That’s what America needs. We need to get the show on the road here and stop all this kind of mindless and fact-free fighting.
Yes, management, I’d be so appreciative if someone could treat musicians and concerned patrons like intelligent adults for once. If someone could answer our questions, and trust us enough to engage in a dialogue, and not leave out inconvenient facts, and not act like our concerns are baseless or naive or irresponsible, and not be condescending or adversarial. That would be so damn lovely. Thanks.
Some late breaking news:
Contract negotiations continue at orchestras; final offer, counter-proposal, from MPR, 27 September.
Without contract, Minn. Orchestra lockout possible, from MPR, 27 September
And Minn. Orchestra musicians face lockout if no deal from the Star Tribune, 27 September.
Management at Minnesota has also posted their most recent contract.
Sooooooooooooo, looks like the Minnesota Orchestra is headed toward a lockout. They meet on Saturday on whether to accept the contract (I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the vote will be NO), and are requesting to meet with management on Sunday. After that…let the silence begin!
And so we’ve come full-circle. I offer you some melancholy music:
*drinks more alcohol*
Head on down to the comment section if you want to engage in some group therapy.
To comment on this entry, click here.
Remember how on the 24th SPCO management rejected the musicians’ proposal (details above)? That consisted of “a first-year guaranteed pay of $73,000 for the first two years, with an increase to $77,000 in the third year. They also asked for no change in the size of the orchestra, increased pension contributions in the third year and increased seniority pay throughout the contract,” according to the Pioneer Press. Well, the musicians have tried again…
According to the Pioneer Press:
The musicians agreed to further salary cuts that would bring the minimum annual salaries down to $70,000 for the first two years of the contract and $75,000 for the third…
In order to avoid reducing the orchestra’s size from 34 players down to 28, the musicians have asked management to take the money set aside for buyouts and apply it toward the operating budget.
“They’ve told us 16 musicians are eligible for a buyout,” said Carole Mason Smith, chair of the musicians’ negotiating committee. “That money should (be used) to preserve the orchestra rather than dismember it and start all over again.”
In addition, the musicians have offered to perform up to eight free concerts specifically for fundraising events.
I’m guessing the musicians feel fairly confident about this offer, as they’ve posted the entirety of their contract up on their blog, which they’ve never done before. Waiting on management’s response now… (One wonders where the money that management wanted to use for buyouts came from. Has anyone explained that? Right now, judging by press reports, it seems it just magically appeared. Abracadabra!)
I’ve been feeling for a few weeks as if the situation in St. Paul is slightly less bleak than the one in Minneapolis, and hopefully this proves it.
Speaking of the bleak situation in Minneapolis…
The situation in Minneapolis is bleak.
Yesterday Minnesota management offered their ominously titled Final Proposal, which makes a generous effort to compromise by…not really compromising much at all. Management is still claiming they want a $89,000 base salary. (Really, guys? You couldn’t even come up to, say, $90,500 to at least give a vague impression of compromise? A $1500 raise in the proposed base salary would only cost you roughly $135,000 more a year. [The exact number would vary depending on how many musicians would be in the group.] Michael Henson alone could cover the vast majority of that if he agreed to a 30% pay cut.) But I guess they did offer some clarifications and some changes in working conditions, and that’s…something. I guess. Not sure what those exact changes are yet. Musicians are still reviewing the document. Hopefully we’ll hear from them soon. I’m not optimistic about their response.
Richard Davis said:
“Nearly six months have passed and we have yet to receive from our players a counterproposal or even any indication of their priorities,” he said.
*politely raises hand* Um, Mr. Davis, I’m not sure where you’ve been over the last few months, but since you’re clearly just joining us, allow me to be the one to inform you that the musicians’ first priority is an independent financial analysisbecause the things you have said about the state of the orchestra’s finances contradict themselves. We have Google now, people! You can’t expect us to forget what you said in 2010! How are the musicians possibly supposed to know what their priorities are if they don’t even know how much money the orchestra may (or may not) be sitting on? It’s like someone saying, “Well, I’m not sure what my income currently is, or what it will be in future, but I do know withabsolute certainty how much I can afford to spend on food, clothing, shelter, insurance, transportation, and everything else!” That’s the talk of a deranged mind. And a banker of all people should know that. Hell, maybe if you agreed to run an independent financial analysis, and the numbers came back that you’re saying will come back, who knows what could happen? Maybe the musicians would agree that your proposal is reasonable, and the only possible way to save the organization, like you’ve been telling us all along. Then maybe we could all move the crap on.
We also heard why management does not want an independent financial analysis:
unnecessary delay and duplication of efforts
One word for this: lame. On second thought, three words: lame, lame, and lame. Management doesn’t cite the cost (the thing my naive self assumed would be the stumbling block); they cite “delay” and “duplication of efforts.” Well maybe if you’d agreed to an analysis a few weeks ago, we’d be that much closer to getting the results! And maybe if you’d agree to an analysis, the musicians might temporarily accept your terms while the calculations are going on! And maybe if you’d agreed to an analysis, you could silence devoted patrons who are going so far as to wonder out loud if you’re engaging in fraud (comment section)! What would the down-side to such an analysis be, besides the inconvenience of “delay” and “duplication of effort”? It would make your musicians happy, as it would presumably answer the questions they have which they say you’re not answering. It would make negotiations less tense because everyone would be on the same page. It would be a net gain for management, as it would make the musicians look incredibly petty for being so obsessed with independent financial reviews lately. If nothing else, management could at least answer some questions about why you guys said you were doing so swimmingly in 2010, when now you say you were actually drowning in 2010.
Until further notice, I’m assuming there’s something fishy going on. Given the publicly available facts, what else am I supposed to think?
“If they want more conversation this week, we are here to find a resolution,” he said.
You guys didn’t seem to be interested in conversation the other day when you rejected a request for the musicians to give a presentation to the board…
Well, in the meantime…if you’re lonely and need someone to talk to about finding solutions to your orchestra’s countless intractable problems…you’ve always always got me and my Hundred Questions… Just saying. <3 xx
Here are the articles that came out today, so you can read all the details and try judging for yourself what’s happening…
Minnesota Orchestra’s final offer. Star Tribune. 25 September.
SPCO musicians make counteroffer; Minnesota Orchestra talks appear stalled. Pioneer Press. 25 September.
As deadlines near, developments in contract struggles at MnOrch and SPCO. MPR. 26 September.
Also interesting: yesterday’s Minnesota musicians’ blog entry discussing their last negotiating session.
Some highlights (lowlights?):
Board Chair Jon Campbell expressed regret at the Board and Management’s handling of the endowment funds over the past ten years, noting that they had been unhappy with the advice they had acted upon and had to change investment advisers. Campbell also admitted that the Board and Management had been wrong in 2007 regarding their investment predictions.
After lunch, Musicians asked questions related to the most recent endowment charts, with the main question being: Where does the $97 Million that the Board has raised thus far (in the Building for the Future Fund) fit into the total endowment structure? The Board and Management did not answer [editor’s note: lol], but said they would provide that information later…
Finally, Musicians requested to speak to the entire Board of Directors at that evening’s meeting, and be given an opportunity to offer their morning presentation. The Board and Management rejected that request.
Stay classy, Minnesota Orchestra management. Stay classy. *thumbs up*
To comment on this entry, click here.
A lot of information has come out lately. Here’s are some articles you can read at your leisure…
Orchestra headed toward lockout? Star Tribune. 24 September, 11:11AM
Minn. Orchestra Musicians Say Strike Is Possibility. WCCO. 24 September, 5:55PM
Could Twin Cities Orchestras Go Silent? KARE. 24 September, 6:05PM
The latest on SPCO, Minnesota Orchestra labor talks. MPR. 24 September, 9:20PM
Minn. Orchestra, SPCO contract negotiations still without agreement. MPR. 24 September.
SPCO rejects musicians’ contract counterproposal. MPR. 24 September.
SPCO contract talks stall; management wants 28 players, down from 34. Pioneer Press. 24 September.
Just some miscellaneous thoughts…
I’m disappointed that the media isn’t talking more about working conditions and managements’ visions for the future. These are not just squabbles over money, although you’d never guess it from the majority of press reports.
I’m not sure why Minnesota management refused to allow their musicians to address the board, especially since there were already plans for management to convene that evening…? I’d like to hear from them about that. Why wouldn’t you at least make the show of meeting with them? You wouldn’t have to actuallylisten to them, if you didn’t want to. You could play with your new iPhone and tune them out. But then at least afterward you could say you met with them when they offered to reach out to you. This just seems like an easily avoidable PR failure. (One of many, unfortunately…)
After this latest barrage of press reports, I feel like I’m understanding better why there has been no counter-proposal from the Minnesota musicians: they want more answers about the organization’s finances before they can decide what would be a reasonable proposal. I think that’s a totally fair request. Having just dug into some old articles, and found some pretty serious discrepancies in management’s attitudes (and numbers) between 2008 and 2010 and 2012, I believe the musicians are more than justified in asking for an independent financial analysis. In fact, I feel that donors should be clamoring for an independent financial analysis. (If I was Julia Dayton, I’d be making some very angry calls to Orchestra Hall administration after what management has all said over the past few weeks…) Once again, management, you’re free to step forward and clarify, either here directly or through the press or through your website. But until you do, I have to deal with the facts on the ground, and the facts on the ground say that the musicians have good reason to feel confused…and betrayed.
Is Minnesota Orchestra management lying to us?: Part II: Michael Henson Edition
To comment on this post, click here.
When I read the latest Star Tribune article on the Minnesota Orchestra crisis, one quote in particular struck me as being so patently absurd, and so directly opposed to everything that had come before it, I felt like I’d wandered into a new upside-down dimension. Either Michael Henson is going off the rails, or I’m becoming dangerously entrenched and reading much too deeply into a couple of sentences, and I’m not sure which it is. If you could convince me I’m crazy, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.
Here’s the portion of the article that made me feel as though a Rod Serling sighting was imminent:
Michael Henson, president and CEO of the orchestra, said on Friday that no immediate financial crisis exists, but he likened the investment funds that help fund each season to a retirement account.
“You can’t spend 90 percent of it in the first four years of retirement,” Henson said. “You need to make it last.”
He indicated the orchestra would like to draw no more than 5 percent annually from the funds; the draw rate has averaged nearly 10 percent over the past 10 years, he said.
Before I begin, I’m going to assume that Henson was quoted accurately, and that his words weren’t manipulated or misrepresented in any way. We should hear within the next couple of days if he objects as to how his comments were portrayed.
With that assumption out of the way, let’s try to unpack this “no immediate crisis” remark.
First, I’d like to say a few words on the nature of crisis.
If you are on track to spend ninety percent of your income in your first four years of retirement, then you are in IMMEDIATE CRISIS.
If you’ve staked the long-term fiscal health of your organization on overly “optimistic economic assumptions and the hope of limitless benefactor generosity,” then you are in IMMEDIATE CRISIS.
If you say on your website that “if the Orchestra continues to operate at its current rate of spending, our endowment will be depleted by 2018“, you are not only in IMMEDIATE CRISIS, you’ve been in IMMEDIATE CRISIS for years.
If your only hope of creating a “fiscally responsible” organization means cutting musicians’ pay somewhere between 25-50%, then you are in IMMEDIATE CRISIS.
If you knew you wouldn’t be able to work for the next few years, and knew your only income would be your life savings, and you knew you’d run out of that savings by 2018, then you would be in IMMEDIATE CRISIS.
If you knew that all American resources would, at the current rate of spending, be depleted by 2018, then newsflash: we would all be in one hell of an IMMEDIATE CRISIS.
Call this what it is:
AN. IMMEDIATE. CRISIS.
Financial crises don’t start when your checks start bouncing. Crises start when you make the calculations and realize that all resources will be depleted by a particular point in time (say, 2018) if you don’t make major unprecedented changes (“significant departure[s] from the traditions of the past,” according to management) that run the risk of changing the face of your organization. The risk of such a thing happening is, in and of itself, a crisis. A huge one. Period.
I’m racking my brains and I can only come up with three explanations for this bizarre statement. Leave a note in the comments if you can think of another.
1) The orchestra is truly IN IMMEDIATE CRISIS!!!ZOMG111!!!1!ELEVENTY!!!1!…but Michael Henson either A) lied or B) accidentally said it isn’t. That means that Michael Henson is either A) a liar or B) incompetent.
2) The orchestra is not in immediate crisis, and management is misrepresenting what’s actually in the endowment in order to get a sharply concessionary contract.
3) Henson didn’t actually use those exact words, and didn’t mean to insinuate that the Orchestra isn’t in crisis right now, but he made a statement that led Graydon Royce to feel comfortable risking his and his paper’s reputation by interpreting it in that way. I have no reason not to trust Mr. Royce. (And like I said, we’ll see in the next few days if any statements emerge from Henson disputing how his remarks were interpreted…) If this is true, then that means Michael Henson is communicating poorly at a moment in time when he needs to communicating with crystal clarity. It also suggests that he hasn’t thought enough about how to explain the Orchestra’s problems coherently and persuasively. If you need unprecedented concessions from your musicians because if you don’t get them, the organization as you know it will no longer be able to “survive”…then for God’s sake, run with that. Yes, Campbell and Davis made some pretty damaging PR mistakes within the last few weeks, and that sucks. But Campbell and Davis have shit to do. Those guys were probably sneaking a five-minute phone call into the Star Tribune in between eating caviar, approving billion dollar mergers, and telephoning Tim Pawlenty to ask if he’d be interested in being CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable (where Davis is a director, FYI). But this is Henson’s full-time job. For which he is being paid $400,000+ this year alone. He should be fully capable of handling a simple newspaper interview without mucking up his message.
Some additional questions…
If there isn’t an immediate crisis, why tamper with working conditions? How much would the changes in working conditions save the orchestra? Have they run the calculations on that? Why haven’t they made those calculations publicly available with their proposed contract? They’ve got an awesome shiny website with which to disseminate such information…
Also: why not agree to an independent financial analysis?
I’d like to take a moment to discuss the current musicians’ contract, which management is saying doomed all prospects of fiscal sustainability. This shamefully irresponsible contract was signed in October 2007, according to this Playbill article. Michael Henson came aboard in September 2007, so I’m not sure if he had any say in negotiating or ratifying that.
But even if he didn’t, dude was super-proud of how things were going financially at the Minnesota Orchestra as late as July 2010…almost three years into that irresponsible five-year contract. In retrospect, this is a hilarious article to read. For a bit of perspective, let’s remember that the much ballyhooed Strategic Plan was published in November 2011. In the introduction we read that “the ideas in this plan have been developed, tested, and honed over the last 18 months.” So that means management started working on the ideas contained within the Strategic Plan in the spring of 2010. Insinuation: they were seeing “significant financial issues and unsustainable fiscal practices the organization must resolve to ensure a sound future” before the spring of 2010. (This meshes with the claims of the Open Letter, which claims, “This is a journey that began several years ago, when the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Orchestra recognized that the organization could no longer survive [my bold] based on optimistic economic assumptions and the hope of limitless benefactor generosity.”) So, having established that, I’d like to let Michael Henson from July of 2010 say a few things. Remember that during this time, he had not only been seeing “significant financial issues and unsustainable fiscal practices” within his orchestra for at least the last few months, if not the last couple of years, he was also, behind closed doors, writing a plan to address those financial issues and unsustainable fiscal practices.
Take it away, Michael Henson of July 2010!
The former Bournemouth Symphony head is strategising his way through the recession - and winning. [my bold]
“There’s no single strategy to beating the downturn,” Michael Henson asserts. “There has to be a whole series of strategies to maintain a focused approach. The priority is continuing the excellence in the artistic work.” With orchestras across the US hard hit by the recession – and management strategies the number-one talking point at the League of American Orchestras’ conference in June - the Minnesota Orchestra stands out as a beacon institution among the bad news. It’s planning a European tour in August (its second in two years), expanding its online content and starting a large-scale renovation project at its home venue – having recently announced the end of a highly successful fundraising scheme. “I would say the support we get from the community is unique,” Henson boasts.
“Minnesotans are highly educated and committed to education,” he goes on, “and with a community this size – around 5m people in the region – we have a wide range of arts organisations, and a collective desire from individuals and corporations to support them.” In 2008-09, contributions accounted for 44 per cent of the orchestra’s $32.5m income. “On top of that, we’ve made some concessions at various points, there’ve been some layoffs and pay cuts in administration,” Henson notes; in August 2009, he took a seven per cent pay cut himself [heh], while Osmo Vänskä, music director since 2003, took 10 per cent [the organization’s fiscal leader took a smaller pay-cut percentage-wise than the music director? classy]. At the same time, Henson negotiated modifications to the musicians’ contract, resulting in around $4.2m in cost savings up to 2012 – mostly through salary and pension reductions, and a wage freeze in FY2010. The orchestra currently numbers 95 contracted players, with six positions open; delaying filling those positions could save up to $1.8m in the long term. [Why are these concessions not mentioned on management’s website? Have they slipped Henson’s mind? Pity, because he seemed awfully proud of them in 2010…]
The orchestra announced in June 2009 that it had raised $14m of its $40m goal for the renovations. One year later, thanks to a last-minute $5m donation from the Target department store chain, it announced it was up to $43m. “The extra will mean we have enough to do it right – to improve chair Y as well as chair X,” says Henson. It also bodes well for the orchestra’s more long-term fundraising programme, “Building for the Future”, which aims to supplement its endowment by $30m, and provide a further $30m for artistic and educational endeavours. Including the renovation funding, the campaign has raised $82m of its $100m target. “Even though we’re in a recession, we have to keep up the commitment to the long-term vision,” Henson continues. ”The board agreed to take the risk on this.”
This year, Minnesota will be the only US orchestra represented at the Proms, a fact with added significance for Henson. “We have already made six live broadcasts this season on the BBC,” he notes (another echo of his Bournemouth days). “Our appearances at the Proms, the world’s greatest music festival, have grown from our close relationship with the BBC and will contribute to the process of increasing our visibility.” Its 2010 tour will also take it to the Edinburgh Festival and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. “We have to keep up our international presence,” Henson says, indicating again his multi-stranded approach to building up the orchestra’s standing. “It’s all about keeping the key priorities in mind.”
This does not sound like a man (or a board) who has been seeing “significant financial issues and unsustainable fiscal practices” for months or years. Nor does it sound like a man (or a board) who is thinking very deeply about those significant financial issues and unsustainable fiscal practices and writing a Strategic Guide of how to address them. And this surely does not sound like a man (or a board) who is anticipating the necessity of a sharply concessionary contract – a “significant departure[s] from the traditions of the past” – a mere two years later, in September 2012. So of course one has to wonder: was Michael Henson being disingenuous to this reporter, or is he being disingenuous to us now?
In case you were thinking this was just a bad interview…may I present to you the Michael Henson of December 2009…
Henson says the last fiscal year was also one of artistic success for the orchestra both at home and abroad.
“We are quietly pleased with the results,” he said. “We are in control of a difficult situation and I think we are looking forward to the future with a similar amount of control, mindful of the economy we face.”
He says the coming year will continue to present economic challenges but he is confident the orchestra is keeping a careful handle on the situation.
That’s nice. But if you were drawing out of the endowment at an average of 10% during this time, then you were (by the parameters you set forth in the Star Tribune yesterday!) not in control of a difficult situation. You were not keeping a careful handle on it, and you had no right to be pleased – quietly or otherwise – with how things were going. Yes, I know that when non-profits are struggling, there is a reluctance to admit how bad things are for fear of scaring away donors and fostering death-spirals. But if things are bad, and you sugarcoat them, when the chickens come home to roost, you can’t treat the public like clueless idiots for asking why your tune has changed. You can’t be in a house, smelling smoke, feeling heat, and hearing smoke alarms, while simultaneously telling people you’re totally in control of any fire that may be forming on the property…and then, when the flames start coming out the windows, scold the public - who wasn’t even in your damn house - by saying, “Guys, I’ve been talking about this raging inferno for years. Help me put it out!”
Of course that leads me to wonder: maybe the fire wasn’t actually burning yet?
Here’s another article from December 2008:
As was the case last year, the orchestra drew only 6 percent from its endowment to help address the budget. The $191 million endowment was down 11 percent because of stock-market performance. The board is allowed to draw up to 7 percent, but spokeswoman Gwen Pappas said the organization has been very firm about avoiding that method.
Okay, so… Based on that 2008 article, let’s try to figure out what’s been happening with the endowment draw rate. I’m using an average of 7% for pre-2007 years, even though Ms. Pappas said the organization had been avoiding that percentage, and it may well have been lower…
2002 – 7% or less
2003 – 7% or less
2004 – 7% or less
2005 – 7% or less
2006 – 7% or less
2007 – 6%
2008 – 6%
I obviously don’t have all the numbers, but based on the ones I do, I don’t think it’s particularly outrageous to assume that, if Henson’s “ten percent over the past ten years” statement is actually true, then during fiscal years 2009, 2010, and 2011, the board must have increased the draw rate to an annual average percentage of 17%+. This seems frankly unbelievable, especially since Richard Davis went on record in December 2010 as saying, “This was a season characterized by disciplined budget management and significant expense cuts, which kept our operations stable in an unpredictable environment.” I don’t know if anyone would call a 17% annual draw over the course of two years “disciplined budget management” (especially not the Richard Davis of 2012), but…okay. I’d be curious to know what all happened in 2009 that necessitated such a dramatic climb in the draw rate. Yes, the crashing economy no doubt had a lot to do with it…but does that explain all of it? (Or, is Michael Henson lying about the draw rate?)
Also, since the post-2009 draw rates were clearly such dramatic outliers, regardless of exact percentages, why didn’t Henson say something like “over the last three years, our draw has increased to an average of 17%+, but before the recession began, it was no higher than 7%”? Were ulterior motives at play? Did he want to make it look like the huge draws were an indication of systemic failure, rather than merely a result of the recession? (This meshes with management’s insinuation that problems have been in place “for many years.”) Did he want to keep the public from placing the blame on him? Did he just pull that number out of nowhere, forgetting that a quick Google search is all it takes to check his statements against Star Tribune articles?
And why isn’t Henson willing to clearly discuss everything that happened in his tenure, positive or negative? It smacks of a rather desperate insecurity. He was proud to say in December 2009 that he was in control of a difficult situation, and that he was pleased with how things were going. In July 2010 the Minnesota Orchestra felt comfortable posting an article on their website saying, “The former Bournemouth Symphony head is strategising his way through the recession - and winning.” Implication: management thought they were strategising their way through the recession, and winning. But now we’re being told that, “Whoops; our bad; we didn’t actually mean ‘winning’; we meant ‘veering ever-closer toward an inevitable fiscal Armageddon.’” Then why didn’t you tell us then???
Binds like this don’t happen overnight. If the Orchestra’s only options truly are to deplete their endowment by 2018 or impose 25-50% wage cuts, there is an immediate crisis, no matter what Mr. Henson says. Obviously someone, somewhere, screwed up. Badly. And even if part of the blame rests on the musicians’ 2007-12 contract, not all of it lies there. If the problems really were this serious back in July of 2010, and December of 2009, and December of 2008, then Michael Henson knew about them. And he had a duty to say something. Or at least email whoever was in charge of the website and say, “Guys, you might want to take down that ‘Michael Henson is winning’ article…it will come back to bite us in the ass in 2012 when we’re forced to reveal how hopelessly fucked we are…”
Michael Henson is either misrepresenting the facts now, or he was misrepresenting the facts then. Period.
(Also, I have a funny little factoid for y’all: when you Google “Michael Henson Minnesota Orchestra”, my Hundred Questions are on the first page. So every time Michael Henson does a Google search on himself and his employer, he’s going to be reminded of me. Aww.)
Like I said, convince me I’m crazy. Please. Because this just seems too wild to be true. As always, the comments section is open to everybody.
To comment on this blog entry, click here.
Not much analysis on my part today, but here’s some news…
From MPR: “Does SPCO, Minn. Orchestra musicians’ skill justify their pay?” FYI, the short answer is “yes.” And the long answer is “yesssssssssssssssssss.” I can certainly think of some people who don’t deserve their salaries, but happily the SPCO and Minnesota Orchestra musicians are not among them.
From MPR again: “Labor talks at SPCO apparently fruitless.” That headline seems just a tad disingenuous; judging by the article, there may have been some fruit, just not enough fruit to end in a final agreement. Heck, that article doesn’t even say if musicians got the final language of the proposed contract that they were waiting for. According to the previous MPR article, talks were scheduled for both yesterday and today, and it doesn’t appear that they were cut short, as I believe they were at a certain point in the negotiations not too long ago. So I’m going to believe there was progress, if only because I want to.
Also, in an exciting twist, the Chicago Symphony is now on strike. Hullo! Atlanta, YOU get a labor dispute; Indianapolis, YOU get a labor dispute; Minneapolis, YOU get a labor dispute; St. Paul, YOU get a labor dispute; Chicago, YOU get a labor dispute! EVERYBODY GETS A LABOR DISPUTE!!!! WOOOOOOOOOO
To comment on this blog entry, click here.
This week has been relatively quiet, hasn’t it? We’ll probably start hearing more within the next few days, though. The SPCO meets with management today. There’s been no word yet if management has approved the formal language of the proposed contract, or if the musicians are still expected to give feedback on it without having the language in place. Minnesota Orchestra musicians and management meet on Monday. This may well be the calm before another storm the likes of what we saw on September 4 and September 5. If the SPCO releases the formal language of their proposed contract within a day of Minnesota management releasing something big…I will be forced to wonder if some kind of coordination is happening in an attempt to influence media coverage. Because bad news is always more powerful when it’s given all at once, as opposed to released on a drip.
Okay, okay. I’m taking off the hat now.
There are a few miscellaneous things I wanted to pass along…
(1) I haven’t actually had time to listen to this yet, but Star Tribune writer Graydon Royce was kind enough to stop by the blog the other day, and he passed along this link… “I would also refer you to a forum in which I participated last week with blogger Drew McManus and Orchestra League president Jesse Rosen on WQXR, New York… http://www.wqxr.org/#!/articles/conducting-business/2012/sep/14/how-troubled-orchestras-can-bounce-back-and-flourish/ ” Like I said, I haven’t had time to listen yet, but maybe you do! Tell me what you think. You can stop by the comment section below to read all Royce’s feedback.
(2) I forgot to mention that a statement by Osmo was read at the Lake Harriet concert. It’s a thing of beauty:
“When I arrived in Minneapolis in 2003, I set many lofty goals for the Minnesota Orchestra. I knew that with hard work and dedication to our art, we would be able to achieve them and take our place among the greatest orchestras in the world. Our musicians have met every challenge I set out for them, and I could not be prouder of what we have achieved. And I also believe that, if we stay focused on our mission of bringing great music and great musicians to Minnesota and the world, we can have even greater days ahead of us.”
Frankly this was a way more pro-musician statement than I was expecting at this stage of the game. Consider for a moment… I don’t think anyone was expecting him to say anything at this event (were you?) This was a pretty anti-management event. It was put on without management’s permission or support, and included a fiery speech attacking management’s proposals. And by submitting a statement to be read at it, Osmo gave the event his subtle, tacit approval. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, but from where I’m sitting, this statement struck all the right notes. Bravo. This isn’t the first standing ovation I’ve given Osmo Vänskä, and it certainly won’t be the last.
(3) MPR has a new article out today called “Twin Cities orchestras make public appeal amid contract negotiations.” I personally found it pretty slapdash for an MPR report, but maybe I’m just having a bad day. Let me know what you think. I was concerned about the omission of two things in particular: (A) the fact that SPCO musicians haven’t yet seen the formal language of management’s contract, and (B) the fact that working conditions remain a vitally important focus of the negotiations at both orchestras (commentators and journalists really, really need to highlight the importance of these, since 99% of the population doesn’t understand what working conditions mean to professional orchestral musicians). I’m still interested in / puzzled by Minnesota management’s claim that the musicians have offered no counter-proposal. I know there’s more to the story than that. Management has been demonstrably disingenuous on their website, so why would they start telling the truth now? I know these musicians; they’re some of the smartest people you could imagine. And let’s be honest: the long-term fiscal health of the orchestra is a hell of a lot more important to them than it is to anyone on the board of directors, including Michael Henson (we all know he’ll find another high-paying job elsewhere after this is all over, no matter how it ends). Maybe for whatever reason the musicians can’t or don’t want to speak about this, and that’s understandable, but at some point when we’re doing the autopsy of these negotiations, it would be interesting to hear more about the whole “lack of counter-proposal” thing.
Michael Henson also said something hilarious in the MPR report:
Minnesota Orchestra President Michael Henson said management is incredibly respectful of the musicians and their talent. But he too says transparency is now what is needed, particularly as the contract deadline is now less than two weeks away.
Bold mine. Hahahahahaha. What a dry sense of humor. Oh, those Brits!
However, this statement from Henson comes as a great relief to me. Because if Michael Henson believes that transparency is vitally necessary, then clearly there’s no excuse for him not to be working on my Hundred Questions, right? If transparency is key, he should not only take two minutes to acknowledge he received my questions, but he should be answering them, too. Soooo….cool beans! I can’t wait to hear from him. Let’s put the kettle on; I’m sure he’ll be here any minute… *dusts off the sticky at the top of the page, which, you may notice, now includes a link to the hundred questions, a PDF version of the hundred questions, a doc version of the hundred questions, and an offer to convert the hundred questions into whatever format anyone on the board desires*
Okay, the snark of those last two paragraphs is too much for even me to handle. Paging Michael Henson. Reality called, and they want you back. Come join us, Mr. Henson. The waters of reality are warm, refreshing, and inviting.
Let’s end on a high note. The Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have begun a petition to “keep world-class musicians in the Minnesota Orchestra.” I’ve heard that over 1000 signatures were gathered at the Lake Harriet show (!), and right now, less than 36 hours after releasing that petition, the musicians are looking at an additional 950+ names. (If you haven’t already, please take a moment to sign yourself!) So, if those Lake Harriet numbers are indeed correct, within the span of a couple of days, the musicians have gotten approximately two thousand signatures supporting them, without the money, PR advantage, and web presence that management has. Also remember, the people who share things on Facebook and read orchestra blogs and sign change.org petitions are a tech-savvy demographic that skews young (and probably liberal). And as consultants are fond of reminding us, the young aren’t the core audience at Orchestra Hall. Think of what those numbers might climb to if we’re able to reach the coffee concerts crowd.
In that MPR article, a PR consultant named Jon Austin said, ”The number of people whose hearts and minds they are competing for, frankly, is pretty small. Probably could fill the Minnesota Orchestra Main Hall and maybe overflow into the lobby a little bit. But it’s a pretty small number.” LOL. Sorry, I just can’t let this stand. This statement may have been well-meaning, I don’t know, but it’s just so factually inaccurate, it’s just…wow. I have no idea what the reasoning behind this “pretty small” assumption was, or why MPR decided it was a judgment worth printing. The Minnesota Orchestra alone has 9100+ Facebook likes, and you know the vast majority of the Minnesota Orchestra’s fans are not on Facebook. Judging by the number of people who attended the Lake Harriet concert on such short notice; the reaction my blog has gotten; and now the number of signatories the musicians’ petition is attracting…I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to tell Mr. Austin that his assumption is flat-out wrong. Huzzah! The number of people who are concerned about the future of the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO could clearly fill Orchestra Hall several times over…at the very, very least. Mr. Austin is totally underestimating how many people have opinions about this conflict, either pro- or anti-management, and if performances are affected in the coming weeks (as I’m guessing they will be), that number will climb dramatically, quickly. And that’s not just the wishful thinking of an orchestra lover: we have the data and the attendance and the signatures to back it up. So please, let’s not fall back on the old tired stereotype that only a handful of people cares about orchestral music, because as we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, that’s just not true…at least not in the Twin Cities. There is more than enough bullshit floating around out there right now; we don’t need any more. Let’s have a little reality check here: one of the very few things we know for certain about this conflict is that, no matter what happens, thousands and thousands of people care. Period.
Speaking of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Facebook page… (I went there for the first time in a long time to get that 9100 likes figure.) And while I was there I noticed something that y’all may find interesting…
Whenever anyone expresses frustration or dismay over management’s proposals, the Orchestra writes a little note along these lines…
And so on and so forth. Interestingly, there are only two posts they haven’t acknowledged…
As the Internet meme goes…
I did have the thought that it might be worth eventually posting a link to the Hundred Questions on Facebook if I don’t hear an acknowledgment of its receipt relatively soon. I don’t want to annoy anybody, but… Dude, I spent a long time on those questions. It would be really nice to get some acknowledgment, even if it’s something along the lines of “YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT TO ASK ALL THESE THINGS, FOR SHAME.” I really don’t think an acknowledgment is too much to ask for.
Am I the only one who feels bad for whoever is running the Minnesota Orchestra Facebook page? You know s/he has no input into any of this, and yet s/he must toe the line as politely as possible, with the threat of being fired by email hovering over his/her head (if this reference doesn’t make sense to you, click this link and look at the questions right above “Website Stuff”). Anyway, tough gig, that. I’m guessing I’d get the termination email sooner rather than later.
I do want to take a moment to praise the Orchestra’s new stock response to patrons’ concerns. It has changed from “look at our pro-management website” to “we will share your concerns with management.” This is an improvement, and a move toward dialogue. I recently had this conversation…
So, um, yeah. I think that kind of speaks for itself. It might be worthwhile to keep checking on that, as I believe this is the first we’ve heard that management is claiming it will eventually update its website “as new questions arise.” Of course new questions have arisen in the last week, and as best as I can tell, nothing has changed on the website except for the section called “Industry News” which is where management gets some kind of weird kinky thrill linking to articles about orchestras in distress. (Fun factoid: positive industry news, or at least non-negative industry news, like what we’ve heard lately out of the National Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and St. Louis Symphony, has never been posted in “Industry News.” I’m not sure what to take away from those omissions besides the fact that management doesn’t really want to provide a comprehensive “view of the current landscape,” and that they must think we patrons are stupid idiotic simpletons who can’t understand the need for sharp concessions unless we only see articles that support management’s thesis.) (Another fun factoid: management officially considers the Huffington Post to be a “reputable news source.” That’s an…interesting perspective. Apparently a blog entry written by an anonymous author on a gossipy website famous for such Pulitzer-eligible journalism as “Kathy Griffin Without Makeup Is Barely Recognizable”, ”Ohio Woman Finds Out Husband Was Her Father”, and “Miley Cyrus Flashes Side-Boob, Talks Sex Scenes, and Losing Her Virginity“…apparently that website is a more reputable, more serious news source than this one. Come on, management. I haven’t even talked about side-boob here once. What do I have to do to be reputable? Turn anonymous, steal others’ work, and start salivating over the Amanda Bynes trainwreck?
I can only assume though if they’ve seen that Huffington Post blog, they’ve seen this one. Don’t pretend you haven’t. Come out, come out wherever you are! I won’t bite; I promise. I may poke at you, and poke hard at times, but I do it out of love, and out of a pure desire to see this orchestra be the best it can be. My first loyalty is not to you; it is not to the musicians; it is to the orchestra as an institution. I swear. Plus, did you see the video I posted of myself? I’m a 5’5” 90-pound shrimp. You could snap my arms like toothpicks. For God’s sake.
Hello, Minnesota Orchestra Management!
To comment on this blog post, click here.
Hello Minnesota Orchestra management!!! Welcome!!!
Slap on a name-tag and step right up! We’ve been waiting for you!
Just in case the discs I sent you on 19 September didn’t burn correctly – or they don’t work on your system – or they’ve gotten lost – here is a link to the hundred-ish questions I’d like you to answer re: the Minnesota Orchestra…
Here’s the link again.
And here’s the link again!
Here’s a link to a PDF version of my questions.
And here’s a link to a .doc version of my questions.
And if you want any more document formats, let me know, and I’ll convert them right away for you.
I’m trying my best to make it as easy as possible for you!
I’ll keep this entry at the top of the blog for as long as it takes until I hear back from you!
When you’re done, let me know. We’ll get in touch about how you want to deliver your answers. My return mailing address is on the manila envelope I sent you. Or you can comment in the comment section. Or contact me through Facebook. Somehow we’ll touch base with one another.
Anyway, thanks so much for your time. You really have no idea how much it’s appreciated. Can’t wait to hear from you, and neither can my readers…