Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Board Management Offer Partial Musician Pay for Fall Months with No Response to Offer
Management Will Continue Talks with Hopes for Spring Season Terms
Fort Wayne, IN (August 31, 2020) — The Fort Wayne Philharmonic announced today that its offer of partial pay for its musicians during the fall furlough received no response from the musicians’ orchestra committee by today’s 5 p.m. deadline. This deadline was critical so that the management team could make the necessary arrangements to schedule, advertise, and produce high-quality concerts in the Fall.
With a desire for mutual agreement, the Philharmonic management has been in talks with the orchestra committee to explore ways to engage the musicians for partial pay, to help them offset some of the hardships caused by the necessary furlough. Included in the offer were nine weeks of pay, payment of 99% of musician healthcare premiums, provisions for taking leaves of absence and terms laying out robust safety measures for performances. Overall, the package was valued at 70% of musicians’ typical compensation during the fall time period.
In response, Fort Wayne Philharmonic’s Board Chairman Chuck Surack said: “We are deeply disappointed our generous offer to provide our musicians financial support during this challenging time was rejected. Although the pandemic clearly is an Act of God and the Force Majeure clause in the contract allows the Board latitude in cancelling concerts and payments, we wanted to help our musicians get through this terrible time. It was our genuine desire to find a way to blanket the community with music by Philharmonic musicians in spite of the many societal challenges we all face. Our musicians are valued members of the Philharmonic family, and we will continue to work with their orchestra committee as we move together through this crisis.”
The Philharmonic remains committed to paying 99% of musician healthcare premiums during the period of the upcoming furlough, from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. This is the maximum allowed by the healthcare policy provider. The other 1% will be paid by each individual musician. The management team will continue to bargain in good faith with a goal of reaching agreement terms of the upcoming Spring Season in 2021.
Earlier this summer the Board of Directors voted to suspend all concerts through most of Jan. 2021, and to furlough musicians and lay off 25% of full and part-time staff members, effective Sept. 1.
This announcement came as a response to the global pandemic and the operational disruptions reverberating throughout the country. Since mid-March the Philharmonic had been forced to cancel or reschedule dozens of concerts and events, including most summer concerts. The Philharmonic Board of Directors made the decision at that time to continue to pay its full time and per service musicians in full through the end of the Season, then extended pay through the Summer Season.