Managers of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra met with the union that represents its musicians today to try to come up with an agreement before the holidays.
The musicians have been on strike for months, demanding higher pay. Concerts have been canceled through November 6th. On Saturday musicians performed at the Fort Worth Water Gardens, raising awareness for their strike. They have been performing under the name "Symphony Musicians of Fort Worth" since their contracts expired at the end of July.
Musicians would not accept the new contracts which according to the orchestra, would have paid principal players more than $70,000, but it did include pay cuts. Musicians' pay has still not leveled out since they took a sacrifice pay cut in 2010 during the recession.
Dave Hermann, an associate principal violist said "since Fort Worth is one of the fastest growing economies in the country, we don't think that supports that kind of cutback."
Hermann has been performing with the orchestra for nearly four decades and is now on strike and showed up to the "Save Our Symphony" rally Saturday. He said he knows corporate sponsorship and city funding is down, and expenses are up, but ticket sales were on the rise. He points out the city is growing, projected to reach a population of one million by 2030.
"We want the organization to stay healthy. We want the organization to grow," Hermann said.
Ryan Anthony, Principal Trumpet for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the rest of the Dallas brass section, joined the Fort Worth musicians in a show of solidarity Saturday.
"That's one of the reasons why DFW is growing the way they are is the fact that we have so many museums and symphonies and opera. It goes hand and hand," Anthony said.
After a meeting between the musicians union and symphony managers Saturday, a Fort Worth orchestra spokesperson released a statement, saying, "This strike benefits no one, and we feel badly for our patrons and ticket holders."
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra presented its final contract offer to the musicians on September 7th. A spokesperson for the orchestra says that would have cut musicians' pay in the short term, but could have generated almost $2 million dollars in revenue for the orchestra in the long term. It is unknown whether there will be a Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra for holiday performances.
The musicians union said they would like to meet with the orchestra management again, to try and come to an agreement.