Letter of the day 8-27-2013

August 26th, 2013

Governor Mark Dayton
Minnesota State Capitol St. Paul, MN

Dear Governor Dayton,

I am writing to you as a concerned citizen, musician, music teacher and constituent. For many months, I have been watching the MN Orchestra lockout with alarm and dread. It appears to me that the current Management and Board of the orchestra are destroying the entity that I have known and loved for so many years. I appreciate that you have participated in finding a mediator to try to spur negotiations between the two sides. While I understand that there are financial realities to consider, I feel that the musicians have had no recourse in this situation. The Board has acted in ways that I find to be very inconsistent with supporting an organization whose purpose is to provide world-class orchestral music to the Twin Cities community. The following actions by the Board are those which I find most troubling in recent years:

Showing positive financial records while drawing down the endowment to gain financing for a hall renovation, and then showing deficits to justify “resetting the business model”.

Changing the mission statement to reflect their goal of being “financially sustainable”, and removing the word orchestral when referring to performances.

Purchasing multiple domain names such as “savetheminnesotaorchestra” in many permutations months before the lockout. The management claims that this purchase of domains was “standard practice” to “protect the brand” and would be used to “share messages”. In reality, these domains would likely have been used by concerned community members such as myself. It seems that the board intended to lockout the community as well as the musicians.

Presenting a contract with 250 red-lined changes to work agreements, and a minimum pay cut of 30%. Refusing to negotiate on a “play and talk’ basis, then locking out the musicians.

Refusing to provide the musicians with all pertinent financial records of the orchestra’s financial health in years prior to the lockout.

Turning a deaf ear to public outcry about the lockout.

As of now, there are nearly 30 open positions within the orchestra. Treasured conductor Osmo Vanska has said he will have to resign if no agreement has been reached by September 9. If we lose Mr. Vanska, I fear that more musicians will leave as well. It appears that the orchestra will never be the same world-class ensemble that it once was.

I am asking you to step in once more to ask the board to lift the lockout as the musicians have requested. If the board continues the lockout, I would strongly suggest that they be forced to resign.

Sincerely,
Erika Sacks-White

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