Some of you have asked what I know about the upcoming audit, financial review, fundraising feasibility review, etc., etc., etc. Truth is, I know nothing more than what appeared in this WCCO article…and now, an email from the MOA that a friend forwarded to me. She always passes MOA emails along because I still never get them (or letters, or phone calls), despite the fact my family’s account with the MOA is still active and all our contact info is complete and up-to-date. But whatever. Here’s the note, with some of my interjections:
Next week will mark one full year since the Minnesota Orchestra and the Musicians’ Union began contract negotiations. Our Board put forward a contract proposal (pdf) on the first day of negotiations—in order to allow time for active debate—and 12 months later we have yet to receive a counter from the musicians. This is an unprecedented action by the Musicians’ Union. Across the nation, musicians at other orchestras have respectfully submitted counterproposals to their boards, even in challenging situations where they have been asked for significant concessions.
Editor’s Note: According to industry expert Drew McManus, a counterproposal isn’t a prerequisite for negotiations.
Also, another note: assuming you want this to end, remember you’ll eventually have to market your orchestra, which (interestingly!) largely consists of musicians. Publicly demonizing them is like shooting yourself in the foot before you head off on a hike. Remember, as completely nauseating as the idea is, absent a dramatic coup, y’all are going to have to work together again…
Our volunteer Board members will continue to do everything possible to remove any barrier the musicians say is standing in the way of them making a serious counterproposal that helps to address our Orchestra’s $6 million operating deficit.
Here are the actions we have taken:
Joint Independent Financial Review
The Board has been eager to move forward with a joint independent financial review since we agreed to this course in January.
After thorough and detailed conversations with the Union, we have come to an agreement on two financial consultants to lead the review.
The Board has suggested parameters for the review to the Union and we are currently awaiting their response. We’ve suggested that the review should:
Be jointly funded by the Orchestra and the Union;
Test the accuracy of the Orchestra’s Fiscal 2012 financial position (which the musicians doubt);
Test the forward-looking financial assumptions upon which our strategic plan for 2012-15 is based.
Once agreement from the Union is in place around terms, we will launch the review immediately.
Editor’s Note: It would be nice if the actual Strategic Plan could be tested and reviewed, too, since we’re testing and reviewing things, but maybe that’s too much to hope for.
Editor’s Second Note: Remember, the 2012-2015 Strategic Plan is already fatally flawed because we’re already a third through that time-frame, and none of the stated goals for the 2012-13 season have been accomplished.
The State’s Legislative Auditor has also agreed to do a special audit in order to examine the public funds received by the Minnesota Orchestra for our annual operations and for the Orchestra Hall renovation project.
Editor’s Note: Um, yeah, because almost half the legislature asked him to. Minor detail, though. Easy to overlook.
We are eager to work with the Legislative Auditor on this review and have every expectation that the end result will confirm that the Minnesota Orchestra is a careful and diligent steward of public funds.
Editor’s Note: Several legislators have already indicated the way that the MOA treats its employees will affect the way they vote about allocating funds to the MOA in future...thereby kinda insinuating that legislators don’t believe the Minnesota Orchestra was a careful or diligent steward of public funds…
Fundraising Feasibility Review to Proceed
We are pleased to note that the Orchestral Association will immediately begin a separate fundraising feasibility study conducted by a Minneapolis-based firm with an international reputation, Bentz Whaley Flessner, in order to accurately gauge any levels of new funding that may now be available in the community to support the musicians’ salaries and benefits. Although we believe that our fundraising professionals have a good sense of the realistic fundraising capacity of our community and we have already accurately reflected this in our strategic plan,
Editor’s Theoretical Existential Question: If a tree falls in the forest, will anyone hear it? Also, how could realistic fundraising capacity be judged when no one was told 30-50% cuts were imminent? hmm
we are willing to test whether or not new, sustainable fundraising opportunities now exist. As part of the study, Bentz Whaley Flessner will contact many Minnesota Orchestra subscribers and donors. We encourage you to participate in the e-mail questionnaire as your feedback will be enormously valuable. Please watch for this email in the weeks ahead.
Editor’s Raging Note of Frustration: MY FEEDBACK WILL BE ENORMOUSLY VALUABLE TO YOU???11!!?!?
MY FEEDBACK WILL BE ENORMOUSLY VALUABLE TO YOU?
Whatever. Readers, let me know when you guys get this email, because I’m curious what it looks like. I’m guessing I won’t get one. But I’ll let you know.
Negotiating a Sustainable Settlement
As we engage in this multitude of financial and fundraising reviews to further eliminate obstacles preventing a financial counterproposal from our musicians, our goal remains the same. We aim to come to a common understanding with the musicians over the significant financial challenges facing the Minnesota Orchestra, so that we can negotiate a sustainable settlement that protects the Minnesota Orchestra for the future. We hope to do this as expediently as possible in order to prevent further concert cancellations.
Editor’s Note: Cool! If you really want to prevent further concert cancellations, you should be really excited to hear about the grassroots citizen-led play and talk petition! Woohoo!
We thank you for your patience, and we promise to keep you advised on our various financial reviews as they proceed.
Editor’s Note: It’s sweet of you to thank me for patience I’ve never displayed.
Editor’s Note: You flatter me.
Jon R. Campbell
Minnesota Orchestra Board Chair
Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO