After 11 months of negotiations, the Louisville Orchestra musicians and board of directors have a signed employment contract. The two sides announced the agreement at a press conference at the Kentucky Center’s Whitney Hall today.
The $5.3-million, one-year bridge agreement calls for a smaller orchestra with a shorter season. Fifteen musician spots will be eliminated, and the new 57-person orchestra will play a 30-week season.
The agreement also requires an orchestra consultant who will make binding employment recommendations for the musicians as well as future orchestra initiatives and management policies. This process will ensure a multi-year agreement going forward.
“So today is not just about a one-year contract, it will be a multi-year, but if we cannot agree on any specific terms for the multi-year beyond the bridge year, then the arbitration process will ensure through a binding process that we will have a multi-year agreement,” says board president Chuck Maisch.
Maisch said the agreement will ensure a financially-sustainable future for the orchestra.
Musicians association chair Kim Tichenor says the musicians are pleased with the outcome.
“A lot of the focus up to this point has been exclusively on the musicians, the number of musicians, our contract, and I think we got really tied up in that language,” says Tichenor. “We’re very pleased that this arbitration process is really going to take a look at organization as a whole.”
The players’ employment contract expired last May, and negotiations between management and the musicians deteriorated over the winter. Maisch and Tichenor both say the deal would not have happened without Metro Council Jim King’s recent involvement.
Orchestra CEO Robert Birman says the next challenge is building demand for the smaller orchestra.
“We’re glad to have something definitive and permanent and sustainable that we can present for the community. Now the big challenge is to turn a sustainable agreement into economic viability,” says Birman.