Magazine article International Musician

Symphony Nova Scotia Seeks Livable Wages

Magazine article International Musician

Symphony Nova Scotia Seeks Livable Wages

Article excerpt

In 1992, Nirvana and Pearl Jam climbed the pop charts, Jay Leno replaced Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, and the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series. The average cost of gas in Canada was 54.1 cents a litre. A section player in Symphony Nova Scotia earned approximately $20,000.

Twenty years later, the world has changed considerably, but Symphony Nova Scotia salaries have not. In 2011-2012, SNS section musicians earned $28,126 before taxes. With no seniority pay and relatively little outside work available in Halifax, some musicians are approaching the poverty line and many are contemplating leaving the symphony for other cities, other careers, or both.

This is the context for one of the most difficult negotiations in Symphony Nova Scotia's history. Talks began in March 2012. Management's most recent offer, proposed in early September, was a four-year contract with a 2% increase each year. While in other places such a contract might be greeted with grudging acceptance, if not applause, SNS musicians have accepted stagnant wages for far too long, and fallen behind relative to their peers and the cost of living in Halifax. The offer was resoundingly rejected.

The crisis in Halifax clearly highlights the need to keep musician pay ahead of inflation. It also presents a case of failed advocacy. The City of Halifax's funding of the orchestra averages less than $18,000 annually over the past five years. To put this into perspective, Orchestra London, based in a similar-sized city, received $482,688 in municipal funding last year. Having been told for many years that their salaries can rise only when grants increase, musicians have launched an advocacy campaign of their own, holding meetings with the mayor and city council members, and creating an online petition for the city to fund the symphony appropriately. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.