Indianapolis symphony, musicians reach new deal

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and its musicians agreed a new contract Tuesday to end a weekslong lockout and clear the way for the resumption of concerts.

The new five-year deal cuts musicians' pay by 32 percent in the first year and reduces the year-round performance schedule by eight weeks during the first two years, orchestra management and the musicians union said.

Concerts are expected to resume Thursday after five weekends of performances were canceled during the lockout.

Orchestra leaders said the contract includes $11.5 million in concessions by the musicians but that at least a 50 percent increase in its annual $6.5 million in private donations is needed.

"We have seen the numbers of people willing to sign petitions, send in letters of support and demonstrate their admiration for our music and educational programs," symphony board Chairman John Thornburgh said. "We now need to convert that support into tangible financial commitments from our community, which we are confident will occur."

The orchestra reported drawing $11.4 million from its endowment during its latest fiscal year, dropping it to $80 million as of Aug. 31. Symphony management said that withdraw rate was too high and that spending cuts were needed.

The new contract reduces base pay for the orchestra's some 80 musicians to $53,000 a year, rising to $70,000 in the final contract year. The symphony said that the contract provides for a 38-42 week performance schedule over the five-year period.

During the past month, the musicians performed union-organized benefit concerts and played during lunch hours on the sidewalk outside the symphony's Hilbert Circle Theatre home on Monument Circle.

"The musicians are doing our part to save this great orchestra we all love," said Rick Graef, a horn player who is chairman of the musicians' negotiating committee. "We remain committed to harnessing the positive energy that arose from the community during the lockout."