Louisville Orchestra musicians must be paid, despite the orchestra management’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. That’s the ruling a federal judge handed down Wednesday. The ruling gives the orchestra’s board of directors limited options for what to do next.
Pay up or go under: those could be the only options the board has. The orchestra’s management was seeking temporary relief from the musicians’ contract as part of its Chapter 11 filing. The judge denied the request, saying the orchestra would only accrue more debt if the musicians didn’t play, since ticket holders and guest artists could seek money for cancelled concerts.
Now the board must come up with around $650 thousand that will be paid out between Friday and mid-April. The musicians will tentatively continue playing.
If the board can’t find the money, it may need to tap the orchestra’s nearly $10 million endowment. The board could also file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and essentially close. Board president Chuck Maisch said after the proceeding he couldn’t comment on what the board will do.
The judge told the musicians not to gloat. Their contract expires at the end of May, and the orchestra’s management would then have more leverage in trying to reshape the orchestra into a smaller ensemble that plays fewer shows. Management has argued that a smaller orchestra would stay solvent.
The orchestra is still seeking Chapter 11 protection, and management is hoping to cut one million dollars in annual operating expenses. Both sides could come to an agreement out of court and end the bankruptcy proceedings.