Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spokane Symphony drama gets national attention

Posted By on Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 3:45 PM

The kerfuffle surrounding the Spokane Symphony's decision to cut the pay of its musicians has made waves outside of the Inland Northwest.

Huffington Post caught wind of the Symphony's 13.5 percent pay cut to musicians after they cut short negotiations with the players. We covered this in last week's edition of the paper.

The HuffPo story, is essentially an opinion piece arguing that the Symphony's musicians got a raw deal. Here's a sample of the piece by David Beem (who himself is a cellist):

Reflecting on the financial toll the 13.5 percent pay cut will have on Spokane Symphony's 62 full time musicians is an exercise in frustration. The identity of its musicians is largely married couples. (17 singles/45 married.) Poverty level in Spokane, for two adults and one child is $18,304. One adult, without children, hits the poverty threshold at $10,836. The contract in contention is offering roughly $15,000.

Things become more depressing when one grasps that poverty models don't accurately reflect the realities of musicians' lives. Spokane players, for instance, are saddled with considerable student debt. Masters and doctoral degrees are common among their ranks. Instruments, and instrument maintenance, cost a fortune also. Management is gorging itself on the benefits of these expenses, which are absorbed by labor on insultingly low wages, disproportionate to the symphony's fiscal outlook.

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