Elsewhere online
August 15, 2012

Spiraling Debt Puts Atlanta Symphony at Financial Crossroads

With its accumulated budget deficit growing by millions of dollars a year, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra faces increasingly dire financial straits as it negotiates a new deal with its 93 musicians, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The debt, which has grown from $1.1-million in 2004 to a projected $19.8-million next year, looms large in fractious talks over a new contract with the Atlanta players, whose current four-year deal expires Aug. 25.

Cuts in the orchestra's size, the members' pay scale, and the length of seasonal contracts are on the table, but with the new season set to begin Oct. 4, reducing the ensemble's concert schedule is reportedly not under consideration.

The players' union has offered $1 million in reduced positions and cutbacks in pay and health-care benefits, while management is seeking $3.1 million in concessions. The president of the orchestra, Stanley Romanstein, said that without significant steps to contain labor costs, "we're playing Russian roulette with the future of the Atlanta Symphony."