In the fall of 2010, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) experienced a devastating six-month strike. Following its settlement the orchestra quickly put the bad times behind it and set to work on a remarkable comeback. Its latest three-year contract was settled in January 2014—eight months ahead of the expiration date.
“The strike, of course, was very painful for the musicians. It resulted in considerable sacrifice,” says Local 5 (Detroit, MI) President George Troia, Jr. “But we prefer to look forward; that is the spirit with which we concluded our negotiations last year, and that is the spirit with which we work with the DSO every day.”
“The musicians of the orchestra are grateful for the steadfast support of Local 5 throughout the negotiations,” says Ken Thompkins, DSO principal trombone and orchestra committee member. “We were ever mindful of our primary goal, which was to craft an agreement that retains and attracts the finest musicians. Our solidarity and shared values of honesty and mutual respect guided us toward a successful conclusion.”
Much of the orchestra’s recovery can be credited to taking a long hard look at its community, and connecting with it. DSO now plays a leading role in the overall regeneration of the City of Detroit.
The orchestra’s performances reach more than 400,000 people a year—more than any other American orchestra, and its subscriptions have grown 24.7% since 2011. Key to its community/global connection is its live, weekly webcast series. Other initiatives include: more extra services per year; a concert series with “patron-minded prices” that has brought the orchestra to seven neighborhoods; wellness music therapy performances; and a dedicated education program that serves more than 20,000 children.
On the fundraising side, the number of people who donated to the orchestra has grown. Those individual donors gave a total of $5.4 million. Market appreciation and new gifts raised the endowment by $10 million, to $38.6 million.