Now is the right time to become an American Federation of Musicians member. From ragtime to rap, from the early phonograph to today's digital recordings, the AFM has been there for its members. And now there are more benefits available to AFM members than ever before, including a multi-million dollar pension fund, excellent contract protection, instrument and travelers insurance, work referral programs and access to licensed booking agents to keep you working.
As an AFM member, you are part of a membership of more than 80,000 musicians. Experience has proven that collective activity on behalf of individuals with similar interests is the most effective way to achieve a goal. The AFM can negotiate agreements and administer contracts, procure valuable benefits and achieve legislative goals. A single musician has no such power.
The AFM has a proud history of managing change rather than being victimized by it. We find strength in adversity, and when the going gets tough, we get creative - all on your behalf.
Like the industry, the AFM is also changing and evolving, and its policies and programs will move in new directions dictated by its members. As a member, you will determine these directions through your interest and involvement. Your membership card will be your key to participation in governing your union, keeping it responsive to your needs and enabling it to serve you better. To become a member now, visit www.afm.org/join.
December 26, 2019Brian Prechtl - Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players’ Committee Chair and ICSOM Delegate
On September 23, the Baltimore Symphony Musicians, members of Local 40-543 (Baltimore, MD), returned to the concert hall after a 14-week lockout. We made a very difficult decision to accept the terms of a one-year agreement that maintains our annual salary while working only 40 weeks out of the remaining 50 weeks during the 2019-20 season.
One provision of the agreement that the musicians achieved is a greater voice in the decision-making processes of the BSO. A Vision Committee has been established consisting of musicians, BSO staff, BSO board members, and community leaders. This group will be working together to solidify the finances of the organization, structure an additional two years onto the current agreement, and help establish the future direction of the BSO.
Several of the same Vision Committee members including musicians, staff, and board members are working together under the leadership of former Maryland State Senator Ed Kasemeyer as part of a state work group provided for by HB 1404, a bill passed by the Maryland General Assembly last spring that is also slated to provide $1.3 million in bridge funding for the orchestra. At a recent meeting of the work group, Michael Kaiser, of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, offered his advice on how to help struggling arts organizations thrive. “Good art, well marketed” is his mantra.
Following this meeting, the BSO retained Kaiser as a consultant to help write a plan designed to help the organization begin a turnaround process. He has begun to meet with various stakeholders in the organization. He is doing research for an extensive internal and external environmental analysis. We look forward to hearing some preliminary feedback soon and a full report by early February. We are also hopeful that Kaiser’s involvement will inspire renewed donor confidence, the support of the state of Maryland, and return the attention of all of the stakeholders to the mission.
The most encouraging aspect of Kaiser’s approach is his assertion that the only way to create success for an arts organization is to put the art first. This seems obvious to all of us who have spent our lives sacrificing in so many ways to keep the music first. We can only hope that the rest of our organization’s leadership will finally see the light.