From the ASO musicians’ union

From a Sept. 18 statement by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players Association: On September 15th 2014, Woodruff Arts Center spokesman Randy Donaldson said that it was "totally laughable" to imagine that the WAC manipulated earned and contributed revenues in an attempt to engineer posted deficits. Yet in each of the fiscal years that preceded a lockout — 2012 and the current lockout of 2014 — significant funds were received by the Woodruff Arts Center that could have mitigated, or eliminated completely, the posted deficit for each operating year.

With the enormous influx of funds due to the sale of two properties and the gifts received last year alone, the Musicians question how such a significant deficit was still posted by the ASO; a mere fraction of those earnings allocated to operating expenses would have eliminated the FY14 deficit.

From a statement posted Friday on the musicians' Facebook page: During the many months of negotiations that preceded the present lockout of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Musicians by the Woodruff Arts Center (WAC), numerous sources within the WAC shared with the Musicians several long-term strategic plan ideas for the ASO that were being quietly discussed among WAC Governing Board members. If implemented, these plans would permanently downsize the Grammy award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, destroying the prestigious reputation it has earned through decades of professional excellence.

During the summer of 2013, it was suggested multiple times both by Stanley Romanstein, the recently departed President and CEO of the ASO, and Virginia Hepner, the WAC’s current President and CEO, that the number of full-time tenured musicians of the ASO should be permanently reduced, and resulting vacancies could be filled with alumni from the ASO’s Talent Development Program (TDP), who would perform in an “internship” capacity.

In March of 2014, ASO Board Chair Karole Lloyd suggested to the ASOPA committee a two-tiered salary system, relegating all new members of the ASO to a severely reduced compensation package for the duration of their “probationary” periods with the orchestra. Unlike in other professions, orchestra musicians are not hired with the expectation that they will grow into their jobs; a musician unable to consistently perform at the highest artistic level will likely not even win an audition, let alone achieve tenure. .