SPCO cancels concerts through February 8

Last week the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra announced a deficit of $895,080 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012.

Today, SPCO Board Chair Dobby West cited that deficit as confirmation that the orchestra needs to make substantial long-term budget cuts in order to remain a viable institution.

"Simply put," wrote West in a letter to subscribers, "we can no longer afford to provide 34 musicians with $115,000 in average salary and benefits for 33 weeks of performances. Significantly reducing the cost of the contract is a necessary next step in ensuring the SPCO's future."

West stated the board has waited for a month to receive a counterproposal from the SPCO musicians, but has been presented nothing.

With that in mind, it has canceled concerts through February 8.

West says the board "remains ready to meet and negotiate as soon as our Musicians have an offer prepared."

Before you keep reading ...

Did you know that MPR News is supported by Members? Gifts from individuals power the headlines, clarity and context found here. Give during the Fall Member Drive to become a Member today.

However Euan Kerr reports that same board has rejected musician offers to 'play and talk.'

The musicians say management's contract proposal, which would cut the guaranteed salary of current musicians to $62,500 a year and new musicians to $50,000, is not respectful and will lead to the demise of the orchestra.

The musicians posit that the SPCO has saved about $1.5 million as a result of the lock out. The players have said it is time for them to come back both to the negotiating table and the concert hall, musician negotiating committee member Lynn Erickson said.

"We would love to be able to play and talk," Erickson said. "We would love to be able to come back in January and start playing concerts again."

You can learn more about both sides of the contract negotiations here.