As a community member, music lover, and especially as a parent of aspiring young musicians I fear for the health and continued brilliance of our nationally recognized Grand Rapids Symphony (GRS).
As some in our community may not realize, the GRS musicians have been negotiating a new contract since April 27th, 2015 and have been working without a successor contract in place since September 1st, 2015.
Six years ago, the GRS musicians gave up pay and benefits to keep music alive in Grand Rapids during the economic recession. Now that Grand Rapids is the third fastest growing economy in the country it is essential to the sustainability of our talented symphony that the financial support of our GRS musicians mirror that growth.
Instead of looking to strengthen and comply with the standard of living our symphony musicians deserve, GRS management wants to turn back the clock, significantly shrinking the number of full-time players, and decreasing pay and benefits to its existing musicians.
A robust symphony of highly trained musicians in our community not only provides entertainment that enhances all of our lives, but is instrumental to the development of young local artists. Over the years, I and many other parents have relied on the expertise of our GRS musicians to teach, inspire, and guide our children’s musical pursuits. Without sufficient compensation for the GRS musicians we cannot expect to keep or recruit fine musicians that can afford to live in Grand Rapids.
The arts tend to reflect the core norms and values of a society. I hope the GRS management see the value in sustaining an extraordinary symphony and do the right thing to compensate our GRS as they deserve.
Katie Branch, MSN, RN