Reporting Esme Murphy
No one disagrees that it is one of the best orchestras in the world.
For nearly a year they have been locked out by the Minnesota Orchestra Board. The Orchestra’s renowned conductor Osmo Vanska has threatened to quit if a deal is not reached by Sept. 30, which is just a week from Monday.
Vanska says that deadline is hard and fast because he needs to have the musicians back so that they can practice for two concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall the first week in November. This week. Mayor RT Rybak and Gov. Mark Dayton made a pleading demand for the sides to meet face to face. Rybak said simply, “the future of the orchestra is at stake.”
A study released this month shows that the orchestra has run up a string of budget deficits totaling $22 million over the last three years. The musicians like to point to the Cleveland Symphony, whose minimum salaries at $122,000 is higher than the current $109,000 minimum for the Minnesota Orchestra.
Cleveland is also a smaller metropolitan area — 2 million compared the Twin Cities’ 3.4 million. Cleveland is clearly the gold standard for success for a smaller size city when it comes to an orchestra.
Why can’t the Twin Cities measure up to Cleveland? Do we have too much competition for the entertainment dollar? Has the recession changed the way we spend that entertainment dollar?
Census figures show the Twin Cities population is slightly younger than that of Cleveland. Cleveland has the fifth-highest median age population of any city in the country at 40.3 years of age.
The Twin Cities was 34th on the list at 36 years of age. Is that it? Or it marketing?
Musicians argue that the Minnesota Orchestra does not do a good enough job of marketing the accomplishments of the ensemble. At this point these questions have all been debated.
The time, as the mayor and the governor said, is now. Rybak put it as bluntly as possible. Minnesota is in danger of losing a world class asset if these two sides can not negotiate and reach a compromise this week.