Atlanta Ballet's Laid-Off Musicians Picket Company's Season Opening | Playbill

Classic Arts News Atlanta Ballet's Laid-Off Musicians Picket Company's Season Opening
Patrons who turned up for opening night of the Atlanta Ballet's 2006 season last Thursday (October 26) were greeted by orchestra members protesting failed negotiations that left them without a contract, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Patrons paid between $17 to $82 a seat to see Giselle, which was accompanied by music generated by a CD player and piped through loudspeakers, according to the paper.

The Atlanta Ballet's 48 musicians have been without a contract since the previous one expired in August.

Company spokesman Jeff Al-Mashat told the Journal-Constitution that it was a pity the musicians and the ballet were unable to reach an agreement but no paying customers demanded their money back.

However, the paper says season ticket holder Julie Adrian, 30, was shocked by the protesters, who held signs saying "Live Ballet Needs Live Music" and "Save The Orchestra." She told the paper, "If I weren't meeting my mother-in-law for the show, I'd either leave, or get out there and protest with them."

Picketer Charae Krueger told the paper, "I hope they realize how really lacking the art is without an orchestra," she said. "It's like cutting the legs off the ballet."

In July, it was reported that the 76-year-old company, currently restructuring its $2.7 million debt, was forced to lay off the musicians due to financial woes.

"After several months of negotiating with the orchestra, the ballet has come to the difficult determination that this is a necessary financial decision so that Atlanta Ballet can continue its overall mission," said David Tatu, director of production, in a statement released at the time. "As stewards of our patrons' support, we believe that we are offering the highest caliber of music within the context of what we can responsibly afford at this time. This is an action step on the road to a secure and lasting future for Atlanta Ballet."

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