The Board of Directors and management of the Grand Rapids Symphony are working hard to achieve their $40 million goal for the Symphony’s endowment, but seemingly at the expense of the Symphony itself. Specifically, the management has proposed huge cutbacks to musicians’ annual compensation and the number of musicians in the orchestra, while at the same time diverting some of these needed symphony funds to the endowment. This is, in essence robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Conversely, the Buffalo Philharmonic, in a city of similar size to Grand Rapids, with whom I am also working, is well on their way to completing their $60 million dollar endowment campaign by having built the orchestra’s artistic product with a 5 year contract with the musicians which contained reasonable wage increases, Carnegie Hall appearances and tours, recordings, increased local concerts and audiences, and a 5 year contract with their Music Director.
People are much more likely to give to a symphony endowment when they observe a strong artistic product that is maintained and heightened, rather than one where the proposal is for the orchestra to experience major cutbacks and less concert offerings. It doesn’t make good business sense.
Nathan Kahn, Negotiator for the Musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony
American Federation of Musicians Symphonic Services Division
Colorado Springs, CO