Minnesota Orchestra financial review paints grim picture

The Minnesota Orchestra, which has been stuck in limbo due to an intractable labor dispute, has released the results of an independent financial review that showed the orchestra has faced a budget deficit totaling more than $22 million in the past three fiscal years.

Results of the study also showed that the orchestra will continue to face serious financial challenges going forward and is in risk of spending down its endowment if it fails to reverse its string of deficits.

The orchestra has made national headlines in recent months for a labor stalemate that has pitted its musicians against management.


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The labor dispute -- the longest in U.S. orchestral history -- originated from a failure to reach a new contract, resulting in management locking out the musicians in October of last year. The talks appear to have reached an impasse, and the orchestra’s season, which was scheduled to begin in the fall, could be canceled.

Orchestra leaders said this week that the independent financial review was launched at musicians’ request in order to provide “an additional objective, third-party view of the orchestra’s financials in the midst of a long labor dispute.”

The review was carried out by the New York firm AKA Strategy.

Orchestra leaders have set a new Sept. 15 deadline to break the stalemate and come up with a contract. It said that the timeline would allow appropriate preparation time for the orchestra’s Carnegie Hall performances on Nov. 2-3 in New York.

Osmo Vänskä, the orchestra’s music director, has indicated that he would step down from the organization if the labor dispute isn’t solved in a timely manner.


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