Posted by Dale Buss on January 18, 2011 01:00 PM
Here’s one of those stories that could only emerge from a city as beleaguered as Detroit. Striking Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians are begging the Big Three domestic automakers to withhold their historic financial support for the DSO.
The musicians’ union has tried to reach executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler with letters. Last week, they passed out fliers at the North American International Auto Show, where the Big Three promoted their comeback strategies to the press and public.
The musicians' plea: Stop providing financial backing to Motown's venerable symphony, at least until after the strike ends.
The strike already has brought yet another huge black eye to Detroit. It began October 4 after the two sides couldn’t agree on a new contract and Symphony management imposed a contract cutting musicians’ pay by about 30 percent in the face of declining revenue and rising deficits. Once the work stoppage forced the Symphony to cancel its lucrative Christmas-holiday season, the dispute entered an entirely new chapter – with no resolution in sight at this point.
At worst, local observers have speculated, the strike may spell the end of the DSO. The city and its environs have lost much in the way of charitable giving and other community support in the wake of the Great Recession and the diminution of the automakers’ financial wherewithal, which traditionally has supported everything in Detroit from hospitals to food banks to colleges and universities.
And metro Detroit simply may no longer have the economic critical mass to continue to subsidize such an expensive manifestation of the fine arts.
One thing is for sure: the union’s move doesn’t seem to suggest that a new performance of Beethoven will be mounted in Detroit anytime soon.