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March 1, 2021IM -
On January 15, the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS) rolled out its “Recommended Audition and Tenure Guidelines.” NAAS is a collaborative effort of The Sphinx Organization, the New World Symphony, and the League of American Orchestras, with substantial input and leadership from Black and Latinx professional musicians.
The audition and tenure guidelines were the product of nearly a year’s work by a committee made up of orchestra administrators, personnel managers, music directors, and musicians, including Meredith Snow (ICSOM chair, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Local 47), John Michael Smith (ROPA president, Minnesota Opera, Local 30-73), Naomi Bensdorf Frisch (Illinois Philharmonic, Local 10-208), John Lofton (Los Angeles Philharmonic, Local 47), Alberto Suarez (Kansas City Symphony, Local 34-627), and Titus Underwood (Nashville Symphony, Local 257). The committee was co-chaired by Snow and John Kieser, executive producer at New World Symphony.
Explicitly acknowledging that there is no “one size fits all” for audition procedures, the committee created the guidelines for discussion and exploration, “in the hope that they will move us closer to the goal” of equal representation, diversity, and inclusion at all levels of orchestral associations.
The guidelines recognize “elemental principles,” including a shared understanding among all orchestra constituent groups “that our orchestras should reflect the racial makeup of the communities they serve and should in good faith pursue that goal.” Training in anti-racism, implicit bias, and group communication skills and the setting of “concrete/time-bound benchmarks toward reaching the target goal of inclusivity” are also among the principles outlined in the document.
The guidelines include seven specific recommendations concerning auditions and four specific recommendations concerning the tenure process.
Audition and tenure processes are mandatory subjects of bargaining and are explicitly addressed, to some degree, in nearly every symphonic collective bargaining agreement. Any changes to these processes must be bargained between the musicians (represented by the local and orchestra committee) and the employer. Such bargaining may occur as part of overall bargaining for a successor Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
In general, there is no obligation to bargain modifications to a CBA during its term, but if the parties wish to address this issue mid-term, they may do so by bargaining a side letter to the existing CBA. A local or orchestra committee seeking further guidance on bargaining modifications to audition or tenure processes may contact SSD Director and Special Counsel Rochelle Skolnick directly for further assistance.
The complete guidelines, along with more information about NAAS, can be found online: www.sphinxmusic.org/national-alliance-for-audition-support.