LB Symphony future concerts uncertain
2010-01-13 · By Editor
The Long Beach Symphony Association (LBSA) Board of Directors voted unanimously on Friday to not proceed with a 2010-11 season unless mutually agreeable terms can be reached by January 22 with Local 353 of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). Negotiations have been unsuccessful thus far. At issue are requested variances to the current one-year contract, and new terms for a contract for future seasons.
“The classics concert on Saturday, January 16, 2010, will proceed on schedule. Beyond that, cash could only come from 2010-11 advance season ticket sales or massive new funding,” said Roger Goulette, President of LBSA. “The fact is that the LBSA will run out of cash and exhaust our secured line of credit by the end of January. We need the AFM to come to the table and be part of the solution if we are to have a next season.”
The Symphony’s Board of Directors has been working since early summer with the AFM and orchestra players to complete the current season of classics and POPS concerts and to offer a 2010-11 season which depends on being able to:
- Reach agreement with the union for the rest of this season and for a new affordable contract for coming seasons.
- Complete a Sustainability Fund drive to retire prior years’ accumulated deficits and provide operating cash now.
- Meet Sustainability Fund donor requirements, which include a more flexible union contract.
- Reduce expenses throughout this season and meet or surpass all revenue goals.
According to Robert C. Jones, LBSA Interim Executive Director, “A small group of generous benefactors have pledged one-time major gifts, outside our $1.5 million Annual Fund Campaign, to recapitalize the orchestra. This Sustainability Fund is close to 75% complete. The donors see themselves as investors. They want to see an affordable business plan for the years ahead before they provide the needed operating cash for the current season.”
Goulette added, “We would normally begin offering subscriptions to next year’s concerts by now, but we first need to know that our musicians will agree to some necessary changes. To start selling a season of concerts we cannot yet afford to perform would break faith with our patrons and they come first.”
Like other arts groups in this bad economy, the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra has been hurt by reduced financial support from foundations, government agencies, and individuals.
In a prepared statement, reflecting the Board’s position, Goulette stated “Although the LBSA is confronting severe financial challenges, we are dedicated to providing this community with professional concerts and educational programs at the highest and most satisfying level that we can afford. It is hard to imagine that after 75 years Long Beach would be without its orchestra but it could happen. All of our plans are to come out of this recession stronger than before and positioned for growth. However, we need the support of the Long Beach community as well as our musicians. The Foundation for the Long Beach Symphony and the Sustainability Fund investor group have both stepped up in an unprecedented way. We hope the union will join this partnership. We have been transparent and consistent with the musicians’ union since last spring, and are even considering facilitation or mediation by a credible third party if it will help advance the negotiations and secure the future of LBSO and its musicians.”