by Steven Hale
With their current collective bargaining agreement with the Nashville Symphony Association set to expire July 31, and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center scheduled for sale to the highest bidder at the end of this month, the Nashville Musicians Association has released a statement:
The financial troubles of the Nashville Symphony have been a subject of much discussion and analysis in local and national media over the past few months, some of which has been speculative and misleading. The recent announcement by Bank of America of their intention to foreclose on the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and auction off the building on June 28th is the latest symptom of a long and complex process that defies easy description.
The Nashville Musicians Association, AFM Local 257, shares the belief of many citizens that the Nashville Symphony’s positive artistic contributions to our community far outweigh the financial smokescreens and public relations posturing of the banks who control the Schermerhorn’s debt and are threatening this great institution by their inability to come to a reasonable solution. We appreciate the support for the NSO musicians already voiced by many, including Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and others, and we respectfully point out that the current financial position of the Symphony Association is absolutely not due to the musicians making too much money. The Nashville Symphony musicians’ total compensation is less than 30 percent of the NSO annual budget.
The six-year collective bargaining agreement between AFM Local 257 and the Nashville Symphony Association comes to an end on July 31, 2013. During the term of this contract, the NSO rose into the ranks of America’s great orchestras, and the results are tangible: seven Grammy awards, acclaimed sellout performances at home and at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, and a steadily rising level of musicianship, performance and community involvement. At a time when the world is looking at Nashville’s economic and artistic growth with great interest and admiration, it is most unfortunate that the Schermerhorn now faces foreclosure due to a combination of circumstances beyond the control of any one person or entity. This situation is most certainly not the fault of the musicians, but they are the ones who stand to suffer the most.
Local 257 President Dave Pomeroy had this comment: “As we begin negotiations this week, we are reviewing the financial information recently provided to us by the Symphony Association. We hope those who now control the finances of the Schermerhorn and the Association will enter these negotiations with an understanding of the importance of the Nashville Symphony to our city and a sincere desire to work towards a resolution that will allow both the Symphony and the Schermerhorn to prosper. Music City was built on teamwork, and it will take teamwork to solve this problem. We are proud to represent the world-class musicians of the NSO, and will come to the bargaining table together in good faith and do everything we can to ensure that Nashville Symphony musicians will keep playing under a fair contract for years to come."