Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra strike may end soon

The Cleveland Orchestra's musicians, who went on strike yesterday rather than accept a pay cut, have a tentative agreement with orchestra management and will vote on it today, WCPN and others report.

Today's New York Times carries a story (registration required) about the strike, noting it's a sign of tough times for classic music ensembles everywhere. But it also notes the special challenges of maintaining a world-class arts organization in Cleveland's long-contracting economy:

Cleveland presents one of classical music’s great anomalies: a top international orchestra in a shrinking city, an ensemble in a Rust Belt town that plays with the greatest of ease among the Viennese. ... Old-money families are dispersing. Ticket sales have declined, although loyalty remains fierce.

“The orchestra is living off of historic wealth,” said Edward W. Hill, a professor of economic development at Cleveland State University.

Audio pieces on nytimes.com include interviews with orchestra executive director Gary Hanson, two musicians, and a CWRU professor, as well as a clip of an orchestra performance.

We've been following this story for a long time. For some perspective, take a look at Andy Netzel's 2007 Cleveland Magazine article, "Harmony and Discord."

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