Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Musicians Launch Save the SPCO initiative at Minnesota State Fair

Small ensemble plays free concert at Fair to raise awareness of contract troubles and ask for support


St. Paul, Minnesota (August 28, 2012) – With the expiration of their contract fast approaching and deep, unprecedented salary cuts looming, the Musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) today launched their Save the SPCO initiative at the Minnesota State Fair.

A small ensemble played a free concert to fairgoers and Musicians handed out fliers that explained their great concern for the future of the world-renowned ensemble.

The Musicians existing contract expires on September 30, 2012

“We are disappointed by the lack of progress in negotiations, and we feel the time is now to inform the community about our issue and the unfortunate consequences of the proposal on the table,” said Carole Smith, bassoonist of the SPCO for 32 years and Chair of the Musicians’ Negotiating Committee.

With proposed base salary cuts of 57% and 67% and the removal of any guaranteed over scale payments to principal and other players, the Musicians fear retaining and recruiting talented musicians will be impossible. Several SPCO musicians are already auditioning for other orchestras, requesting leave to work in different fields and some have been forced to put their homes up for sale, said Smith.

The Musicians are asking that their supporters increase their donations to the SPCO and urge management to reconsider the current contract offer.

“We had remained optimistic that management shared our vision for artistic excellence and financial stability, ” said Smith. “Sadly, that hope is fading, and it is being replaced by fear and uncertainty. The proposed cuts are simply devastating.”

Smith said the Musicians are fully aware of the SPCO’s financial challenges. Over the last ten years, the Musicians have agreed to salary cuts and other concessions, which have saved the Society over $2 million. Smith said the Musicians want to continue to be part of the solution. They have proposed salary freezes, additional fundraising initiatives and increases of $2-$8 per ticket. Thus far, management has rejected those solutions.

“We believe the problem is a lack of revenue, not an abundance of spending, and we all need to make a more concerted effort at raising revenue,” Smith said. “We’re hoping our loyal fans will help us save the SPCO.”

Further contract talks are scheduled for September 10th and 11th.

For more information about the Musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the contract talks, visit


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