Houston Union Dispute Provides Window Into the Economics of Major City Symphonies

ByUSDR


The Houston Symphony Society, along with its musicians, announced today that they have reached a four-year labor agreement significantly ahead of schedule. The new agreement will continue a series of musician salary increases intended to retain and attract the finest orchestra musicians possible and create new opportunities for expanded community/educational activities and revenue-generating concerts while maintaining a sustainable financial position. Under the terms of the next contract, Houston Symphony minimum musician salary will increase an average of 2.85% annually to $97,240 during the 2017-18 season from its current levelof $86,840.

The existing contract is set to expire on October 4. Following a three-month period of highly constructive and respectful negotiations, the new contract was ratified today by the musicians of the Houston Symphony, members of Houston Professional Musicians Association, Local Union No. 65-699 of the American Federation of Musicians, and by the Governing Directors of the Houston Symphony Society’s Board of Trustees on April 15. The new agreement will begin October 5, 2014, and expire on October 6,2018.

With a highly successful Centennial Season coming to a close, growing momentum is buoyed by the new labor agreement and places the Houston Symphony on track for more history- making when it welcomes the arrival of its first Hispanic Music Director Andrés Orozco- Estrada, who begins a five year contract at the beginning of the 2014-15 season. As it approaches the end of the current fiscal year on May 31, the Houston Symphony is on track to achieve a balanced budget for the fourth consecutive year thanks to record-setting contributed income and ticketsales.

“We’re very proud of these successful negotiations. The new agreement represents a further strengthening of the partnership between musicians, staff, and the board as we continue to enhance the performance and profile of our great orchestra,” says Executive Director/CEO Mark C. Hanson. “The terms will enable us to grow artistically, expand our engagement with Houston’sgrowing and diverse population and maintain a sustainable balancedbudget.”

“I, together with my orchestra colleagues, look forward to our work with Andrés, the staff and board to advance the artistry and reputation of the Houston Symphony here and beyond. We welcome the opportunity to serve our hometown in an even broader way through additional free community programming allowed for in the new agreement,” said Dave Kirk, Principal Tuba and Chair of the Musician NegotiationsCommittee.

Board President Robert A. Peiser added that “It is important to build on the success of the last four seasons as we complete an aggressive five-year financial plan in the upcoming 14-15 season. This contract, combined with our growing audience and donor base, is a testament to the forward momentum present at the Houston Symphony. We are on solid financial and organizational footing as we welcome Andrés as our MusicDirector.”

About the Houston Symphony
During the current 2013-14 Season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its 100th year as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. In the upcoming 2014-15 Season, the orchestra begins its next century under the direction of Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada, the organization’s first Hispanic music director and 15th overall. The Houston Symphony is one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas whose inaugural performance was held at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston on June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $30.7 million, the full-time ensemble of 87 professional musicians is the largest performing arts organization in Houston, presenting more than 286 performances for 300,000 people, including 82,000 children, annually. For tickets and more information,  please visit www.houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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