Monday, January 22, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, January 22, 2001

Orchestra ratifies no-raise contract

Symphony shifts concerts to Saturdays

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Musicians of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra have ratified a one-year contract extension without pay raises, a move that provides a 33-week concert season starting this fall, and averts a potential strike.

The contract freezes salaries for the 2001-2002 season. It spares the organization from contract negotiations and possible labor woes, allowing the financially strapped orchestra to concentrate on how to curb spending and increase revenues.

"The contract extension enables us time to get our house in order," said Stephen D. Bloom, the new symphony executive director who was previously with the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra. "The musicians are making a tremendous commitment to the community."

The orchestra, which has 63 full-time musicians and 20 per-service musicians, ratified the contract on Jan. 14. The 2001-2002 season starts in October.

"This agreement is a tremendous leap of faith on the part of the symphony musicians, and a strong demonstration of our support for Stephen Bloom and the board of directors, under the leadership of (board director) Carolyn Berry," said Michael Largarticha, president of the Musicians Association.

The musicians’ contract, which was to end this year, calls for an annual base salary of $26,000, still modest by national standards — and low considering Honolulu’s high cost of living. The year’s extension at 2000 pay scales will enable the orchestra to maintain operational costs at a manageable level while it tries to increase fund-raising, donor support and attendance.

The orchestra maintains an annual operating budget of $5.9 million and its endowment is about $6 million, far below desired levels. According to John Graham, a Florida-based arts administrator who served as a consultant to the orchestra last year, the endowment should be three to four times the operating budget, or ideally about $20 million.

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