On May 6, the musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra ratified a new five-year agreement during an endowment drive that has achieved a $26 million increase in the past year. The contract provides 1.5% salary gains in each season, in addition to the restoration of 14 of 23 permanent musician vacancies. A one-time income supplement of 12% to all current tenure track musicians creates a compensation package of 3% over the life of the deal.
This is a major step forward for an orchestra that saw a drop in endowment value from $92.7 million during 2000 to $56 million during the financial upheaval of 2008. Musician concessions in 2009 and a contract extension in 2011, along with new and prudent board financial practices, provided a path to this agreement. The original goal of $20 million for the endowment was exceeded by $6 million, establishing full funding of the salary increases and restored vacancies, plus a future reduction in annual endowment draw from 5% to 4.5%.
As the institution faces the challenges of a $125 million renovation of Music Hall during 2016-17, the new labor agreement provides financial stability and eliminates the last of a structural deficit by the 125th anniversary season of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 2020.