DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s music to the ears of many. The Dallas Symphony and its musicians announced a new two-year contract for the orchestra even as the economy continues to strike sour notes.
The symphony recently cut its budget by a million dollars, eliminated staff and freezing wages. The musicians have a base salary of about $90,000, making it among some of the leading American orchestras. The performers haven’t had a raise in four years, according to a release from the DSO. “It says we in Dallas are really lucky that they put it together,” says professor Mike Davis of SMU’s Cox School of Business, who adds, “All arts organizations are suffering, and we’ve seen symphonies shut down or go on strike; they’re on strike now in Louisville, they settled a long strike in Detroit a few months ago. “
“This is a situation where all the parties came together,” says DSO’s incoming board chairman Blaine Nelson, who adds much credit goes to the musicians for realizing the current economic tempo. “They came down a lot from where I think their expectations were and this shows that they are making a significant contribution and sends a strong message to other donors.” He adds, “This should grab the attention, particularly of large corporations that do business in Dallas.”
The agreement comes at a time where arts groups and some symphonies across America are struggling because of the tough economic climate. “Let’s not kid ourselves,” says SMU’s Davis, “We’ve got big problems in this local economy like we do everywhere in the country, but compared to some other cities that are really suffering right now, Dallas is doing pretty good.”
Davis believes it sends out a positive message about commitment. “If we had had a strike, if we didn’t have a symphony season this year, then that’s what the world would say about us. We would be the city where the union went on strike. Now the world will be talking about the fact that we put a deal together, and the fact that we have this great venue to perform in.”
Arts lovers passing by the Myerson Symphony Center, the DSO’s home, applauded the agreement. “I think it’s very good news,” says Geri Strong, who lives downtown and supports programs in the Arts District. “I think in general anything we can do to support the arts and keep them vibrant and to keep young people involved in it, I think that’s a positive thing.”
“I think it’s fantastic,” adds Vicki Espinosa, also an arts lover. “ It would have been a travesty for a city like Dallas – as metropolitan as we are – to lose the symphony. I’m happy that they reached an agreement; that’s fantastic for the city of Dallas.” Her husband, Eduardo, echoes her enthusiasm. “I’m for it, I’m glad to have the symphony active in Dallas and this city definitely needs to support the arts.”