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Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and musicians reach five-year agreement

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Posted at 12:29 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 12:29:50-04

BALTIMORE — On Friday, The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Inc. (BSO) and its musicians announced that they have reached a five-year agreement on a new contract that begins on September 7.

This five-year contract provides foundational stability and marks the first long-term agreement since their three-year contract expired in 2016.

Central to the agreement is an acknowledgement of the significant financial pressures associated with COVID-19 social distancing, in the form of near-term compensation adjustments, followed by gradual increases in both compensation and musician complement beginning in the second year of the agreement.

Equally significant, this agreement supports the achievement of goals outlined in the BSO’s strategic plan as announced in February 2020: an adjustment in work rules to seed new and increased audience, community and donor engagement activities as well as programmatic innovations in Baltimore, in Montgomery County and throughout Maryland.

The agreement also advances an institutional re-commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) by establishing a task force to design new professional development opportunities, evaluate orchestral hiring procedures and establish new fellowship programs.

“We are especially gratified that a long-term agreement has been reached with our musicians. Our collaboration was punctuated by a commitment to the future success of our great orchestra, which success is our joint responsibility.” said Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Board Chair Barry Rosen. “The tone and content of all of our negotiations were always constructive and cordial.”

“The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is one of the finest orchestras in the country. We are grateful to our superb musicians and the Players’ Committee for our collaboration as we chart a course for a bright future together despite the challenges we are currently facing due to COVID-19.” said BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome. “We are thrilled that this multi-year agreement reflects our commitment to increasing both compensation and the number of musicians in our exceptional orchestra, while continuing to pursue the goals outlined in our strategic plan.”

The terms of the five-year agreement, effective from September 7, 2020 through September 14, 2025, include the following:

• COVID-19 provisions including reductions during the initial year (2020-21 season) followed by annual increases in base scale:
Year 1: (2020-21 season) 26% reduction in base scale and a 75% reduction in overscale and seniority
Year 2: (2021-22 season) 1% increase in base scale (from pre-COVID level)
Year 3: (2022-23 season) 1% increase
Year 4: (2023-24 season) 1.75% increase
Year 5: (2024-25 season) 2.5% (reaching a minimum annual wage of $90,100 in the final year)

• Gradual increases in the number of full-time musicians, including gradual filling of vacancies, moving from 75 full-time musicians (2020-21 season) to 85 full-time musicians, including librarians, in year 5 (2024-25 season).

• Continuation of a comprehensive year-round benefits package which includes medical, dental, vision, life, long-term disability, and instrument insurance.

• Formation of a diversity task force to address ways to increase diversity on stage including a new fellowship program to be developed with the Sphinx organization.

• Increased responsiveness in scheduling and programming to pursue new earned revenue and community engagement opportunities.

• Maximum visibility of the orchestra in the region, across the state and beyond through digital platforms.

• Building on the popularity of BSO OffStage, new structures for a continuation of at-home content by musicians as part of COVID-19 provisions.

• New provisions for the BSO’s operations and increased profile in Montgomery County including expanded opportunities for donor and patron engagement.