For Pittsburgh Symphony, Prosperity May Depend on Contract Talks Elsewhere

Classic Arts News   For Pittsburgh Symphony, Prosperity May Depend on Contract Talks Elsewhere
A year after posting a hefty deficit, the Pittsburgh Symphony appears to be back in good fiscal health, with a small surplus for 2003-04, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. But its future prosperity may hang on contract talks in four other cities.

A year ago, with the PSO in dire financial straits, musicians accepted pay cuts for two years, while the orchestra's management agreed to peg future salaries to those of comparable ensembles. Beginning in the 2005-06 season, the orchestra will pay its musicians 95 percent of the average salaries at four orchestras‹the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, and the Cleveland Orchestra.

All four of those orchestras are now negotiating new contracts, and the outcome of those negotiations could have a major impact on the PSO's bottom line. The current minimum salaries at the four orchestras currently range from $100,620 in Cleveland to $105,040 in Philadelphia. At least some of them are seeking pay cuts, but if the average remains steady, the minimum salary in Pittsburgh will rise to $98,000‹a sizeable jump from the current $83,182.

"It's really out of our hands," chief financial officer William S. Hart told the Post-Gazette. "We'll live with that just like we live with every other deal we make."

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