Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Symphony; Good Progress for Orchestra

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Symphony; Good Progress for Orchestra

Article excerpt

After a tumultuous year marked by labor strife, a management shakeup and extraordinary financial challenges, things are looking up for the Jacksonville Symphony.

A turnaround that portends stability and growth appears to be taking shape following some sound decisions by the board of directors.

Foremost among those decisions was bringing in a noted consultant to examine the symphony's operations and finances as well as the board's leadership.

The board listened and took action when consultant Henry Fogel, formerly CEO of the American Symphony Orchestra League, issued a report in March calling for significant changes.

LEADERSHIP CHANGE

The executive director was replaced with David Pierson, who had led the orchestra from 1988 to 1996. The previous executive director, Stacy Ridenour, has moved to a new role focused on fundraising.

Fogel also urged that an agreement be reached with the musicians' union to end an impasse that was imposed by the board in September when the previous contract expired. An agreement reached last week provides for a new two-year contract.

Commendably, the musicians elected to play on under an imposed contract that reduced their earnings by 20 percent after the board declared an impasse in September.

That meant the musicians continued to get paid at a reduced rate and the community continued to enjoy concerts by what is considered Florida's best orchestra and among the best in the Southeast.

NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR

To the credit of both, the board and the musicians compromised, splitting big differences down the middle in a deal that increases the $32,200 base pay in the imposed contract. The base pay, which had been $40,155 under the previous contract, was reduced to $35,700 under the new contract that is retroactive to last September.

Next month, Fogel will facilitate a board planning retreat focused on making other changes, including many recommended by Fogel. …

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