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ARTS: RPO, musicians approve new four-year agreement

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The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra announced this afternoon that its Board of Directors and the Musicians' Negotiating Committee have approved a new four-year musician agreement. The full press statement appears below.

Although details of the contract were not disclosed, the release states that the musicians will make "painful concessions" (per the Musicians' Negotiating Committee Co-Chair) in the first two years, and "restorations" in the third and fourth.

RPO Spokesman Mark Berry added that the new contract calls for significant cuts in the number of concerts scheduled during summer seasons, and some changes in health-insurance coverage for the musicians and the RPO administrative staff. The number of concerts taking place in the regular seasons will remain the same.

The release also included a statement by RPO CEO Charles Owens referencing the orchestra's recent challenges. "The new contract with RPO musicians gives us all reason to be optimistic," Owens says.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT:

Board of Directors and Musicians' Negotiating Committee

Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

January 14, 2013

The Board of Directors and the Musicians' Negotiating Committee of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) jointly announced today that they have approved a new four-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Details of the CBA were not announced.

"The RPO is blessed with an artistically excellent group of musicians; the Board of Directors is exceedingly pleased that those musicians have once again agreed to continue collaborating with us on producing consistently thrilling performances for our audiences," said Board Chair, Elizabeth Rice. "It is the RPO musicians who make us what we are."

"The contract negotiations were arduous and methodical," says Musicians' Negotiating Committee Co-Chair Wesley Nance, "but ultimately the contract was ratified by more than a 75 percent margin. The agreement includes painful concessions in the first two years, with restorations in years three and four. It recognizes the tough financial challenges of the organization, while trying to meet the needs of the musicians. It is our hope that we can work together to continue to make the RPO successful and avoid the problems that have befallen other orchestras around the country."

"We have been experiencing a challenging time for the RPO, its musicians and staff, and the board," said President and CEO Charles H. Owens. "The new contract with RPO musicians gives us all reason to be optimistic--as does the recent outpouring of audience and community support. The goal-topping ticket sales for our holiday performances, the sold-out shows this past weekend, and the success of our annual campaign, all give us great confidence that the RPO can look forward to a bright and exciting future."

As Mr. Owens mentions, the RPO's annual campaign for the 2012-2013 fiscal year stands at $1.6 million as of January 11, some $184,000 ahead of the 2011-2012 campaign at the same time last year.

The RPO has also seen interest in its concerts rise recently. Single-ticket revenue ranged from 101% to 116% of goal for the performances over the holiday period, beginning with The Nutcracker on November 23-25 and ending with Gala Holiday Pops, December 21-23 (an especial hit, with two sold-out shows and ticket revenue exceeding last year's total by 16%). Between these perennial Rochester favorites were performances of Handel's Messiah, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and a children's concert featuring the British film The Snowman. Single-ticket revenue totaled just under $590,000 (103% over goal), and attendance exceeded 27,000.

Last weekend's RPO Pops performances with Chris Botti were both sold out, and ticket sale revenue exceeded goal by over $35,000.

These concerts and their popularity show the many different facets of the RPO and is a testament to our musicians' versatility and talent. As Board Chair Elizabeth Rice puts it, "The RPO is an institution made up of many people working together."

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