The announcement came on Tuesday afternoon when the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra and MOA management each held press conferences to share the news. The actual collective bargaining agreement that everyone signed off on has yet to be posted online, and each side has emphasized in their press statements what was most important to them. Neither side got everything they wanted. What I am still amazed about — shocked, really — is that MOA management and the musicians negotiated without either side getting the condition that they had said they needed before negotiations could begin, i.e. a counter offer from the musicians (management) or the end of the lockout (the musicians). So what happened?
The last four days have been full of speculation, but it seems that the City of Minneapolis used the lease issue to put pressure on the MOA Board. The MOA was clearly in default on the lease requirements and they needed the Orchestra to return in order to resolve the default and keep Orchestra Hall. This is my guess. I have not seen any confirmation from the City or the MOA, but something stuck a firecracker under the MOA’s butt.
The lockout ends on February 1. The musicians and the MOA have announced “homecoming concerts” for February 7 and 8, and February 14 and 15, the first in the renovated Orchestra Hall. Before each concert, patrons are encouraged to arrive early to explore the new lobby area and other features of the renovation. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, January 22 at 5 p.m. Visit here for more information.
I am still trying to take it all in. I’m ecstatic for the musicians, and especially happy that they are satisfied with the agreement. What I really want to hear is an apology to the musicians for the really terrible things said to them and about them during the lockout, and for some of the really childish behavior of various Board members toward the musicians. It would be a huge step toward repairing the damage that’s been done. The musicians have nothing to apologize for. I’m proud of the way they conducted themselves throughout this ordeal.
As Gina Hunter writes, there are still questions to be answered and work to be done. At the top of my list: will Osmo Vanska return? I also think the MOA governance structure needs reform, but I doubt it will come from the Board of Directors itself. I suspect they see nothing wrong with the way they do things. I agree with Hunter: they are accountable to no one but themselves and this has to change. We were lucky this time — the City of Minneapolis was able to have leverage over the Board and hold them accountable for the way they were conducting business. But just as a corporation has shareholders to whom the corporation’s board and leadership are accountable, the MOA needs to be accountable to someone interested and involved in the Orchestra, classical music and non-profits.
For Evan Quinn and the future of the Minnesota Orchestra, I feel like we narrowly missed plunging over a cliff and losing the Orchestra altogether, as well as the tradition of artistic excellence it has been building. Indeed, the next few years could be difficult ones anyway. But at least the Orchestra continues to exist and will continue to perform and grow. I hope this horrible lockout will show both sides the need to work together for the future of the organization, and not blame the musicians for what the Board has done.
Will I attend the “homecoming concerts”? I don’t know. I know I should be feeling happy and upbeat and excited, but I only feel sad. Is it because the MOA leadership team remains intact? Perhaps. The same people who haven’t been open to learning about non-profit governance are still there, the same people who didn’t comprehend that they didn’t understand artistic excellence and how important continuity is to maintain it. The same people who were willing to lose Osmo Vanska, and who treated him (in my opinion) with incredible disrespect. And I kept seeing online this week one person after another saying that as long as Michael Henson remained President, they would not donate their hard-earned money to the MOA. The Board and MOA leadership has a monumental task ahead of it to heal the deep rift they created between themselves and the community. They need everyone in the community, not only those who can donate $10K plus.
So, I’m in a wait and see mode….