Musicians at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra have agreed to take a 12 percent pay cut for the 2009-2010 season.
The cuts will mean a reduction of about $8,000 a year in the base rate for each musician.
SPCO President Sarah Lutman said the agreement will help the orchestra balance its budget next year in the midst of a troubled economy.
"We are quite optimistic that we will be able to balance the budget for this year, which ends on June 30th, and for next year we are trying to be proactive," Lutman said.
The 12 percent reduction proposal came from a specially created task force of musicians.
Lutman says the way this agreement with the musicians came together as quickly and as easily as it did is a testament to the strength of the SPCO's system of musician involvement.
"And to have this happen and to have it happen without a lot of angst, but just by looking at reality squarely in the face, is something we are extremely proud of," she says.
The musicians voted to accept the plan last Thursday. Co-principal second violinist Tom Kornacker served on the taskforce. He says the cut is tough, but the musicians agreed it was necessary.
"Basically we are trying to keep the art form alive," he says. "It's a significant loss of income however we would hope there are opportunities to make it back in some ways. It's a very difficult time."
Kornacker says the agreement came together remarkably easily.
"We met three times," he says. "We looked at all the different ways that we could approach the numbers that were necessary. And when we came to a conclusion we brought it to the orchestra, and I have to say it was an overwhelmingly positive vote by the orchestra."
The SPCO has already laid off seven administrative staffers, reduced senior management compensation by 15 percent, frozen other administrative salaries and cancelled a planned European tour.