Monthly Archives: June 2011

2010-11 Season Giving Levels and Donor Benefits

Overture: $100-249

• Recognition once annually in a DSO Honor Roll
• Personalized DSO Donor card
• 10% off all purchases at the Shop @ The Max
• Invitation to DSO Open Rehearsals

Serenade: $250-499

• All previous benefits, plus:
• An invitation for two to attend the annual
Donor Appreciation Event
• Opportunity to purchase single tickets during Ticket
Priority Week, one week before the general public

Concerto: $500-999

• All previous benefits, plus:
• Two complimentary tickets to a Detroit Symphony Civic Youth Ensembles concert

Encore: $1,000-2,499

• All previous benefits, plus:
• Invitation to a backstage tour
• Season listing in Performance magazine

Symphony Society

Donors celebrated at $2,500, $5,000, $7,500, and $10,000+

• All previous benefits, plus:
• DSO Concierge – priority access to DSO concerts and events
• An invitation for four to attend the annual Donor Appreciation Event
• Two single-use valet parking passes
• Two complimentary passes (admit 2 each) to the Herman & Sharon Frankel Donor Lounge
• Listing on the Annual Fund donor wall
• Invitation to travel with the DSO on national and international Patron Tours

*The opportunity to be nominated as a Governing Member, including an invitation to attend and vote at the DSO Annual Meeting with a donation of $2,500
* Membership to the Herman & Sharon Frankel Donor Lounge with a donation of $3,000
* Complimentary unlimited valet parking at Orchestra Hall with a donation of $7,500

Donors celebrated at the $15,000, $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000+

• All previous benefits, plus:
• Personalized, signed DSO recording
• Opportunity to sit on-stage during a DSO rehearsal
• Invitation to the Annual Maestro’s Circle dinner
• Opportunity to dedicate a concert in your name or in honor/memory of a friend or family member


Posted in Blog, Chatter | 1 Comment

Pittsburgh Symphony agrees to new contract with musicians

Staff Blogs – Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Sunday, 12 June 2011 14:56
Written by Andrew Druckenbrod

Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc. and orchestra members of Local 60-471 of the American Federation of Musicians have reached an agreement for a new three-year contract nearly three months ahead of schedule.

The current three-year pact was set to expire Sept. 4 and the new contract, ratified Saturday night, takes effect Sept. 5 and runs through Sept. 1, 2014.

The agreement calls for a 9.7 percent wage cut in musicians base salary the first year: in 2011-12 the annual base salary will be $100,110, down from $110,764 in this season. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s fiscal year runs from September to August.

The musician’s base salary will remain the same in the second year of the contract. The final year will be a “wage-opener,” for which PSO musicians and management will examine the possibility of an increase in salary. The musicians also agreed to contribute $100,000 to the orchestra’s annual fund in the first and second years of the new contract.

In the past 18 months, several major American orchestras have faced financial turmoil. In April, the Philadelphia Orchestra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and the musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra ended a bitter six-month strike. In January of 2010, Cleveland Orchestra musicians staged a one-day strike.

Posted in Blog, Chatter | Leave a comment

Anne Parsons signs new contract

Anne Parsons signs new contract, will remain CEO of Detroit Symphony through 2014

Crain’s Detroit Business

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has renewed the contract of President and CEO Anne Parsons through 2014.

Parsons, 52, agreed to continue at her current pay rate, which reflected compensation and benefits adjustments made to her contract in early 2009 as part of cost-cutting efforts, the DSO said in a release.

According to its tax filing, in 2009 the DSO paid Parsons $299,679 in base pay, after a 10 percent cut, and total compensation of $414,541 with benefits. One of those reported benefits is living in a Grosse Pointe home owned by the DSO.

Parsons joined the DSO in April 2004 as president and executive director. She was named president and CEO last year. Before that, she held general manager and orchestra manager positions with the New York City Ballet, the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and the Boston Symphony Orchestra and worked for two years with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

In 2008, Parsons led the search for a new music director, bringing Leonard Slatkin to Detroit.

During Parsons’ tenure at the DSO, the organization has raised more than $74 million, attracting new or increased support from many donors. During that same period, donations from the board of directors have tripled, the DSO said.

As the DSO’s top executive, Parsons became a polarizing figure during the DSO musicians’ recent strike.

She became the face of mismanagement alleged by the striking musicians and of DSO management’s efforts to permanently restructure the fixed costs of one of the top orchestras in the world. Throughout the six-month strike, however, the DSO board supported Parsons.

“Anne has everything the DSO needs at this critical point in its history, and we are honored that she has decided to continue to lead the organization toward its collective pursuit of a viable and successful future,” DSO Chairman Stanley Frankel said in a release.

“Not only is she an industry veteran of 30-plus years with proven expertise in navigating challenging economic climates, she (is) a crusader for the arts with deep connections within the national funding community.”

Posted in Blog, Chatter | Leave a comment

Reactions to Anne Parson’s new three year contract.

Recently several columns have been published that are strongly critical of the DSO Board of Director’s decision to extend Anne Parsons’ contract for 3 years. These columns are from outsiders with no connection to the organization.  The first is from John Guinn, a longtime arts critic in Detroit, the next is from David Zoltan who writes about arts management from an insiders view, and the last is by Shannon Jones who writes for the World Socialist Web Site.

Our members from around the metro area and around the continent have contacted us with questions about the issues raised in these columns, so in the interest of transparency and open communication, we are posting them here and invite comments and input from all interested parties.


On the Contract Extension of DSO President Anne Parsons
by johnrockneguinn – June 10, 2011

The apparently blue skies that opened up with the ending of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strike turned grey and stormy with the recent revelation that the orchestra’s board had offered DSO President Anne Parsons a three-year extension of her contract.

In March, shortly before the orchestra’s nearly six-month strike ended, the board approved the extension of Parson’s lucrative contract. That wrong-headed decision, preceded by the sad news that Emmanuelle Boisvert, the orchestra’s longtime concertmaster, was departing to join the Dallas Symphony, makes the DSO’s weather forecast gloomy indeed.

Clearly, Parsons’ contract extension is a collective slap in the orchestra’s face, an arrogant confirmation by the board that her campaign to severely alter the orchestra’s artistic purpose and vision will continue.

But it is vital to remember that the blame for the ongoing struggle for our orchestra’s future lies not with the inept Parsons but with the board and its autocratic chair, Stanley Frankel, who issued a lavish statement supporting her.

As long as Frankel and those misguided DSO board members who agree with him continue to exert power within the organization, the future of the orchestra as a viable  artistic force remains in serious jeopardy.

So the storm clouds continue to gather. Don’t expect to hear any thunder, though. The entire DSO percussion section has already departed for more secure artistic futures.


Internal loyalty
by David Zoltan

Anne Parsons is the kind of arts manager that gives the rest of us a bad name. The president of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has been in the news quite a bit over the past year. The latest news to feature her is perhaps one of the most telling, however.

In March, while the fight was still raging between Parsons and the musicians over a 23% pay cut for the musicians as well as some other issues surrounding outreach and community involvement, Parsons got her contract extension with the DSO board wrapped up and then kept under wraps, waiting until after breaking the strike and the spring concert series to announce her contract extension. And who could blame her considering that announcing the fact that she was being brought back for exactly the same pay would have given the musicians even more resolve to wait out Parsons and the board?

Parsons reportedly makes close to $300,000 per year along with a long list of fringe benefits, not the least of which is the house she lives in. I haven’t looked deeply into top-tier orchestra management salaries of late, but that doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, for better or worse. So by pure market value of experienced top-level management, I’m sure that it’s reasonable for the level of management talent we’re discussing. Of course, the argument that Detroit would lose its status as a first class orchestra if it made such drastic cuts was summarily dismissed by management, so why would the market for management talent be different? But this isn’t purely a factor of economics.

Parsons already has an image as a union-breaker given her role in the strike and her intransigence in negotiating, even when top politicians and mediators came in to try to help put an end to the long dispute. The loss of Emmanuelle Boisvert, the long-time concertmaster of the DSO, to Dallas where she will be willingly taking a demotion to associate concertmaster, as well as the loss of other musicians towards the end of the strike, showed the lack of trust and confidence already prevalent among the musicians.

So now, how can these musicians that finally bowed to time and accepted that huge 23% cut in pay possibly feel to this latest slap in the face that Parsons will force them to take hugely painful cuts without bothering to take any of her own?

Would $69,000 make everything at the DSO better? Of course not. But one of the constant refrains before and throughout the strike from Parsons was the need for more outreach and community programming, a fact I strongly supported. $69,000 would certainly make an impact on expanding such programs. I could still think of many interesting things to do with $69,000 that would help reach out to new audiences.

More important though is the sense of shared sacrifice that was asked of the musicians that Parsons abandons completely here. After all, if the average musician was making just over $100,000 (about a third of what Parsons makes), each individual musician’s share of about $23,000 that they sacrificed won’t make or break the orchestra either. It’s the shared sacrifice together that makes it possible for the orchestra to realign itself, but it’s not one that Parsons contributes to in any real sense.

This is why artists rail against arts management so often. This is where the accusations that we’re exploiting their work to make money for ourselves comes from. Parsons shows with such a simple misstep that she doesn’t believe in supporting artists, just institutions. This makes it just a little bit harder on the rest of us that are working to ensure that starving artists are a thing of the past to earn the trust of the artists we work so hard to support.

This comes down to my favorite topic on this blog, loyalty. This move shows a complete lack of leadership on Parsons’ part, and in the aftermath of the strike, she needs to be rebuilding loyalty if the rest of her programming has a real chance to help rebuild the audience base and expand into new audiences. She needs willing and enthusiastic collaboration with the musicians that decide to stick it out.

Let’s assume for a moment that her salary is deserved for those “deep connections within the national funding community” among other things. Fundraising is going to be a critical part of rebuilding the orchestra’s position in Detroit and the world stage. There’s still a chance for her to lead here, to make a very substantial commmitment to the orchestra and its musicians.

So I call on Parsons to donate 23% of her salary back to the orchestra as long as the musicians also must sacrifice for the health of the organization. Parsons is already a donor, as I’d hope all arts managers would be to the organizations they love and support, but at a more modest 3-7% level according to the article.

This is a chance for her to make a powerful statement to the musicians, to donors spooked by the strike, to those national funders to which she has deep connections that she believes in the orchestra, in the city, and in the long-term strength of the organization and its mission. This would allow her to match action to her words. And as it would be a voluntary effort, it may even mean more, in the end, than had the DSO board done its fiduciary and moral responsibility and reduced her salary through negotiations.


Detroit Symphony renews contract of Anne Parsons
By Shannon Jones – 7 June 2011

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra board of directors has agreed to a three-year contract extension for DSO President and CEO Anne Parsons. Parsons oversaw the imposition of drastic concessions on musicians in the agreement ending the recently concluded six-month strike.

Parson’s contract renewal was agreed to late last March, but management delayed making public its decision until the conclusion of the strike-shortened 2010-2011 concert season and the announcement of the 2011-2012 season.

The decision to retain Parsons is an expression of the contempt of orchestra management for DSO musicians and the broader musical community in Detroit, as it continues its plan to impose a for-profit business model at the expense of artistic excellence.

Parsons received $299,679 base salary in 2009 and $93,000 in “other compensation,” including a house, pension, health care and a car allowance. For their part, DSO musicians took a more than 23 percent cut in pay under terms of the agreement ratified in April at the conclusion of the strike. The cuts dropped the DSO, long considered one of the best orchestras in the United States, out of the top 10 in terms of pay.

Linton Bodwin, a DSO bassist and chairman of the orchestra committee, told the WSWS that the decision by management to retain Parsons was “puzzling based on what has happened over the last five years, that she would be rewarded. We had hoped for a clean start at the top. It wasn’t a great surprise, but it wasn’t great news. It boils down to a few people making a decision to continue carrying out their philosophy.”

Musicians struck on October 4 last year against concession demands, including a more than 30 percent pay cut and changes in work rules that would turn orchestra members into little more than servants at the beck and call of management. Musicians turned out to the community, organizing well-attended support concerts that kept the dispute in the public eye.

As important as the economic issues were in the strike, perhaps more significant was the determination of the musicians to defend the DSO as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. However, the efforts of the musicians could not overcome the impact of the isolation from the official labor movement, which refused to organize any serious support for the strike in the Detroit area. In April, musicians were finally forced to agree to a contract with deep pay cuts.

The DSO strike drew national attention as orchestras across the United States struggled with declining corporate donations and ticket sales in the wake of the financial crash. The end of the DSO strike was followed within days by an announcement from the Philadelphia Orchestra that it was declaring bankruptcy and would seek to abrogate its contract with musicians.

Since the end of the strike, the orchestra has lost several of its most talented musicians, including Emmanuelle Boisvert, DSO concertmaster for the past 23 years. Boisvert joined the DSO at the age of 25, the first female to win the concertmaster position at a major US orchestra. Her departure is an implicit rebuke to DSO management. She is leaving to take a lesser associate concertmaster position with the Dallas Symphony. On previous occasions Boisvert had indicated her intention to remain with the DSO until the end of her musical career.

The DSO has suffered other major losses, including Philip Dikeman, acting principal flute since 2010; violinist Lilit Danielyan, an 11-year DSO veteran; and the entire percussion section.

Concerning the departure of Boisvert, Bodwin indicated that the highly talented violinist had been the target of personal attacks on the DSO Inc. Facebook page during the strike, which at least in part influenced her decision to leave for Dallas. He added, “We are sorry to see her go. I hope she will be better off where she is going. It is a gamble, because she is leaving some of her family behind.”

Reflecting on the mood of orchestra members, Bodwin added, “It is still an unsettled situation. I think the musicians are unified as a group and are not prone to letting themselves be divided. Unfortunately, we still have to be in a reactive position.

“I have to say that the reception we have been getting at concerts is like we are heroes. I think the public is standing with the musicians.”

DSO musicians gave thanks to supporters of their strike, including the World Socialist Web Site, at a post-concert party held backstage at Orchestra Hall on June 4. Musicians expressed their appreciation to this reporter for the honest coverage and analysis of the strike, which stood in sharp contrast to that provided by the corporate media. Many musicians indicated that they felt their struggle was part of a broader defense of art and culture and expressed determination to continue to oppose the agenda of DSO management.


Posted in Blog, Chatter | 2 Comments

Are Unions To Blame?

by Michael Kaiser
President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Click here for the Article on the Huffington Post

A recent article I read suggested that labor unions are a primary cause for today’s financial problems in the arts. I could not disagree more.

It is absolutely true that when income falls precipitously, as it has for many arts organizations, costs must be realigned. And it is also true that unions, in protecting their workers, fight tooth and nail to maintain their members’ standard of living and work environment. That is why there are unions in the first place.

But the key issue is: why has revenue fallen so far for so many arts organizations?

It is not the fault of union members that we are selling fewer tickets or raising less funds. We can blame a terrible economy, lack of arts education in our schools, substantially lower government grants at every level and new forms of entertainment that compete for the time and resources of our audiences for much of the reduction in resources available for arts organizations. A recent study, for example, found that contributions for the arts fell much farther during the recession than had previously been expected.

But this is not the entire story.

For while many arts organizations are cutting budgets and reducing their service to their communities in response to falling revenue, many others are doing very well, thank you.

They may have to work harder for the resources they require for growth but they are still growing. These are the organizations that are smart about building revenue. They produce important art, they market this art and their institutions aggressively, and they are especially good at making people feel welcome as members of their extended families.

I have been surprised (and dismayed) to see how many arts organizations handle their donors, manage their special events and treat their board members. One arts manager I met told me that her organization never communicates with its donors except for writing them once a year and asking for their annual contribution! I recently went to a board member event for one organization where the board members were left to fend for themselves as the staff members sat and drank and ate! Another arts executive told me on several occasions how he “hates his board members and wishes they would go away!”

And then they are surprised when their levels of contributions fall.

It is impossible to blame unions for the lack of revenue for arts organizations when so many are doing such a poor job of managing themselves.

In any event, cutting wages is not a long term strategy for success, nor does it ensure that the mission of an organization will be pursued with vigor. (And you can only cut for so long before there is nothing left to cut.) The only way to assure success for any not for profit is to build a sustained and growing revenue producing capability.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

Ballet Renaissance, musings by Phil

Dear SOS friends,

On Sunday, Hanna and I enjoyed a performance by Ballet Renaissance (see students and instructors, “Ballet with Bach,” at the Detroit Institute of Arts auditorium. With at least three DSO musicians leaving Detroit to join the Dallas Symphony, it may be of interest to you to know that a gifted ballerina and ballet teacher, Brianna Furnish, came from Dallas to study (at Wayne State) and live and work in Detroit some years ago, and she has put down roots here; fourteen years ago she founded Ballet Renaissance, a non-profit organization “committed to establishing quality, affordable professional ballet training and performance opportunities in the heart of Detroit” (from the group’s mission statement). In 2006, a Polish-born professional ballet dancer named Radoslaw (Radek) Kokoszka, joined Brianna as Co-Director of Ballet Ren. I learned about Brianna and her organization from her father, a good friend and college classmate of mine (at Cornell College of Iowa) whom I have kept in touch with over the decades; he is a retired professor (of theology) at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. (He and his wife came up from Dallas last weekend to visit briefly, and to attend this performance, and we had the pleasure of lunch with them at the DIA Cafe beforehand.)

What is special about Ballet Renaissance, and about Sunday’s performance? (1) Brianna and Radek teach students of all ages, girls and boys (although there are many more girls), all economic and racial backgrounds, from the ages of four on up to adults, and they all get a chance to perform at least a couple of times a year. They now hold many of their classes at the Detroit Opera House. (2) At the end of a performance, all the groups who have participated are invited back to the stage, and each child or young person or adult is identified by name and presented with a red rose. The parents who work back stage are also recognized. Love, support, safety and appreciation characterize the whole process. This time, parents of both co-directors also came to the stage and were introduced and acknowledged. (3) The fact that the music of Bach was choreographed for this performance seemed to me to be both daring and appropriate; it was very satisfying, both musically and visually. (4) While much of the musical “accompaniment” was recorded, Nadine Deleury, principal cellist with the Michigan Opera Theater Orchestra, provided exquisite cello accompaniment (from Bach suites for unaccompanied cello) for certain of the dances, and a young woman named Klara Eikoff–just finishing her freshman year in high school–sang a beautiful Bach aria for another. (5) Two other groups, the Madame Cadillac Dance Theatre of Detroit, which has been celebrating Detroit’s French roots since 1981, and a group of guest dancers from the Detroit High School for Fine and Performing Arts, also performed and added to the interest of the afternoon’s program.

I mainly wanted to alert you to the fact that, with several DSO musicians abandoning Detroit for Dallas, at least one gifted artist from Dallas has established herself in Detroit and adds importantly to the cultural and educational life here. Not only do Hanna and I support our DSO musicians, but we are pleased to support Ballet Renaissance and the important–and not well enough known–work this organization is doing.


Posted in Chatter | Leave a comment

Civic Alumni Subs with DSO

I am thrilled to be performing this week as principal flute in the DSO with two amazing substitute musicians sitting in the flute section:

Amy Taylor, piccoloist from MIlwaukee (frequent piccolo sub with Chicago Symphony) and Josh Romatowski, former DSO Civic Member, my former student who is currently a Masters Student at the San Francisco Conservatory.

Don’t miss these concerts featuring music from Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters including “James Bond”, “Jaws”, “Superman” and “Star Wars.” This will be your last chance to hear the DSO in Orchestra Hall until October.

Jeffery Zook, DSO Piccolo/Flute

Posted in Chatter | Leave a comment