Heinzman: Leaders must solve orchestra dispute

Residents of the Twin Cities Metropolitan area pride themselves in having professional entertainment that enriches the quality of their lives.

News of the shutdown of six weeks of Minnesota Orchestra concerts over a labor dispute is disturbing. The Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra are important cultural pillars for all of Minnesota and the region.

We’ve taken our orchestras for granted and all of a sudden we realize that as a metro community they need our help, big time.

When one hears of professional salaries in the millions for professional sports entertainers, because that’s what they are, proposing that professional musicians must take a pay cut from an average of $135,000 to $89,000 is mind-boggling.

How insulting.

Not knowing all of the facts, it sounds like the orchestra’s business model is trumping its musicians’ livelihood – the same musicians they extol for all of their marvelous work and honors.

A dispute pitting some of the area’s finest musicians against a well-intentioned board of directors over future financial unsustainability, calls for this area’s best professional, business and political leaders to get involved.

Where are the city mayors when we need them?

And where is the metro area business leadership that lauds the state as a good place to do business, because of the quality of life, which includes the arts?

Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders should also see what the state is able to do to solve this dispute.

After all, this is the MINNESOTA orchestra – in the same league as the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins.

Don Heinzman is the former editor of the Elk River Star News and is a columnist for ECM Publishers, Inc. Reach him by e-mail at dhein0219@aol.com.

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