Anonymous Donor Agrees to Pay for Consultant in Orchestra Talks

by Gabe Bullard on September 2, 2011

Another party may soon enter the Louisville Orchestra contract negotiations.

The management and musicians have been in talks for a new contract for over a year. Last week, concerts for this month and next month were canceled due to the lack of a contract. Both sides met with Mayor Greg Fischer, who today announced that an anonymous donor has come forward to pay for a national consultant to work with mediators.

“I strongly encourage both sides to take advantage of this opportunity,” says Fischer in a statement. “I urge the parties to continue talking and be creative as the orchestra is an important part of Louisville’s cultural footprint and all options for preserving it should be pursued. My hope is that a sustainable financial artistic solution can be achieved.”

The musicians committee chair welcomed the decision, saying the players had long sought to have someone with expertise join the talks. Orchestra CEO Robert Birman says outside consultants previously weighed in on the contract already and didn’t help broker a deal. He’s pleased the mayor found a donor to pay for a new consultant, but hasn’t decided whether to accept the offer.

“We just heard about it an hour before the mayor put out a statement urging the parties to do it. And that’s great. We will be discussing it and we’ll get back to the mayor next week,” says Birman.

The orchestra management will also decide whether it must cancel performances in November next week. Cancelation notices must be given about 60 days in advance.

The two sides are currently working with the Louisville Labor Management Committee. The management has sought to sign musicians to contracts of various lengths, ranging from 10 to 30 weeks. They say that’s the only workable financial model. The musicians have offered to cut the orchestra from 71 to 60 full time musicians, each signed for 35 weeks. The number of players would then be increased in subsequent seasons.

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