Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We Have a Settlement!

The Minnesota Orchestra onstage at Orchestra Hall in 2012
It's over, folks!  The lockout of the Musicians of the MN Orchestra will end February 1, 2014, sixteen months after it began, the longest in the history of American classical music. 

I'm proud of the musicians.  They stood firm, united, and tall, taking the high road in the sometimes terrible media circus that MOA management tried to create at times.  They continued to provide artistically excellent concerts for the community, and education concerts for schools.  I suspect they learned a great deal about what goes into putting on a symphony orchestra concert.  I have not heard specifics about the settlement agreement beyond salary figures.  It is my hope that ALL the work rules remain in the master agreement, and ALL the management nonsense that tried to control artistic decisions was removed.

With this settlement, we can look forward to MN Orchestra concerts returning to Orchestra Hall.  Will Osmo Vanska return?  Will the musicians who left return?  How will management repair the damage they have wrought over the last 16 months?  How will trust be re-earned and re-built?  I understand that Chairman Jon Campbell will step down from his position, but he'll remain as Immediate Past Chairman (yes, this is an executive board position), and if his chosen successor, Nancy Lindahl, is elected to take the chairmanship, I doubt anything will change.

The governance structure of the Minnesota Orchestral Association needs to change.  The Board needs to be accountable to someone other than itself, and membership of the Board needs to no longer be dependent on how much money an individual contributes (min. $10K).  I plan to continue working for governance reform.  The MOA needs fewer bankers (none, actually) and more people who understand the artistic side of things and respects it, as well as lovers of classical music and people who have experience and/or understanding of non-profit arts organization governance (NOT management).

The one piece of news that profoundly disappointed me was that Michael Henson would remain as President and CEO.  Mr. Henson is the guy who created a truly unfriendly work environment for the musicians.  In my humble opinion, he has disturbing control issues.  I personally believe that Osmo Vanska may not be willing to return until Mr. Henson has tendered his resignation (and returned at least half of his 2011 salary and bonuses). 

I will continue to write about reforming the governance structure of this organization, and I'm in the process of launching research into the legislative action that made it possible for the MOA to eliminate its membership in 1990-91 and create a closed Board of Directors accountable to no one but themselves.

Stay tuned....

6 comments:

George (Jake) Jaquith said...

Right on! Henson and those who supported the tragic lockout must go in the upcoming meeting of the MOA. It is so important to communicate this to all the board members and the administration. Call and write the management, the MOA and copy Rep. Phyllis Kahn and Mayor Betsy Hodges. Unfortunately, many will no longer donate to the orchestra due to HENSON´S actions, nor will some even care to attend concerts. Other than the deficit, the biggest liability now is MR. Henson.

Gina said...

If Graydon Royce is to be believed, he wrote yesterday in the Star Tribune that Jon Campbell and Richard Davis are leaving the MOA Board. This is definitely a step in the right direction. I hope they find leadership that understands and cares about the artistic concerns within the organization, and also leadership that understands the difference between governance and management. The Board needs to leave management of the MOA up to the administrative staff and focus on governance.

George (Jake) Jaquith said...

Please let us know ASAP about the rule changes in l990-91. Recent reading in Adaptracion, one of the featured blogs on the musician´s website makes me see how dysfunctional non profit boards can be. All the more reason for the City and State to provide governance and vigalance. For the sake of a healthy arts community, we should look at the European models. PLEASE, PLEASE continue to write the Board about easing HENSON out and asking OSMO to return. They meet either this week or next, so the time is short to effect long term changes for a fractured orchestra.

Gina said...

George, I document the rule changes in 1990-91 in my earlier post about MOA governance: The Minnesota Orchestral Association Governance, Part 3 on 11/6/13. Take a look. I will also be writing more about governance reform for the MOA in the next week or so.

Time is not that short, George. In fact, I think it unwise to rush into anything that may be comprehensive right now. The current Board needs to regain its footing and make peace with the musicians and community, as well as consider changes in the structure going forward. Do I want to see Michael Henson thanked for his service and shown the door? Yes. Do I want to see Osmo Vanska return? Yes. All in good time....

Stephanie Sarich said...

We definitely need to change the orchestra's governance. A city council member said he agreed with all of my concerns and that changes should occur so this messy situation never happens again. Another called and thanked me for my advocacy.

Great idea, reviewing the founding documents...great work!

Gina said...

Stephanie, thanks! I have a concern that the current Board won't be terribly interested in reform unless they can continue to serve the MOA in some way, preferably to finish out their Board terms. We need to find a way to convince them that they will be contributing to the future of the organization in a much larger way with reform than what they were thinking about before. I'm not at all sure how to do that....