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Orchestras feel the squeeze

Financial problems and musician strikes have created a perfect storm of problems for symphonies over the last several years.


Detroit Symphony Orchestra on strike.

Paul Sancya /AP/File

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Symphonies have increasingly fallen silent over the past few years as musicians threaten strikes and their parent organizations face financial challenges because of a lack of patrons and donations.

Most orchestra unions are chapters of the American Federation of Musicians, which focuses on improving health care, pensions, and insurance for musicians as well as assisting with negotiations between orchestra members and their management.

A new round of walkouts was averted in October when the Seattle Symphony Orchestra voted to approve a strike, then agreed to a contract extension through Jan. 31. Audiences in Minnesota weren’t as fortunate. After the Minnesota Orchestra management proposed salary cuts, the collective bargaining agreement between Minnesota Orchestra musicians and the Minnesota Orchestra Association expired early in October, prompting the cancellation of concerts through Nov. 25.


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