Officials with the Louisville Orchestra are tight-lipped on negotiations between the ensemble’s administration and musicians.
The musicians’ contract expires next year. Both sides have declined to comment publicly, citing an agreement not to negotiate through the media. Administrators further declined to discuss the orchestra’s current financial situation.
The orchestra was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2006, and was saved through additional fundraising, and a five-year gradual pay cut for musicians. Leaders sought to cut about one million dollars from its budget last year. Fund for the Arts president Allan Cowen says the economy has been bad for most arts groups across the country, and orchestras are hit especially hard.
“Well I think the orchestra has a less flexible model,” he says. “All the other organizations supported by the fund for the arts have more variable costs and less fixed costs as the model.”
Cowen says mid-sized orchestras must either cut costs or raise more money, and there are two primary ways to cut costs.
“Shorter seasons…you see that everywhere. And the shorter seasons are probably significantly shorter,” he says. “Two, you do see orchestras, mid-size orchestras having less contract employees and more employees that are hired on a casual basis.”