Over at Iron Tongue of Midnight, Lisa has posted an epistle by David Herbert (aka soon-to-be-ex-Principal-Timpani of the San Francisco Symphony). The striking musicians of the orchestra are circulating the letter in the hopes of bolstering their case against management. However, having read the letter and some of the material posted on a new site aimed at supporting the musicians (and presenting their side in the dispute), I'd like to offer one piece of completely unsolicited advice- the musicians, led by David Gaudry, Chair of the Musicians’ Negotiating Committee/violist/aspiring pugilist would do well to tone it down and keep it as professional as possible.
While most people intuitively side with labor in these kinds of disputes, especially labor as sympathetic as musicians or artists, attacking someone as obviously capable as Brent Assink just comes off as a stupid tactic in my book. Furthermore, if the endowment has increased 83% on the man's watch while almost every arts company in the world has cried endlessly over the disappearance of theirs, isn't that evidence the man is plainly doing something right?
What the musicians union fails to mention is that while the Symphony is doing well, especially compared to other institutions, that endowment is a key to the organization's continued success. The high number of tickets available at discounted prices over the past few seasons and the high number of empty seats at some performances bear witness that the organization is still feeling the effects of the recession and the collapse of the economy- a situation every arts organization continues to grapple with, and few are doing it as well as the SF Symphony under its current management. The arts will be the last area to feel the economic recovery, but were among the first casualties when things went south almost a dozen years ago. As great as the orchestra is, they aren't the sole source of its success. Conversely, did anyone blame the musicians for the failure of the orchestras that have collapsed in recent years? Bueller?