BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s musician lockout continues into its eleventh week with no end in sight and a new season on the horizon.
The musicians picketed outside the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Thursday morning, making their demands clear, but the question remains if there’s enough time before the negotiation window ends.
The orchestra president said the lockout will be lifted September 9 in time for the season’s opening, but without a new contract, the musicians may not show up.
“We have people who are going through cancer treatments, people who are having babies, you know, the financial pressure of being out of work for at this point (for) coming up on three months,” said Brian Prechtl with the players’ committee.
Officials said progress is slow after a 90-minute meeting Friday.
Refusing to play without a contract, the musicians want a role in the BSO’s future decision-making. They’re also asking Gov. Larry Hogan to approve a $3.2 million grant to keep them in business for the next two years.
BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome said talks are ongoing even though musicians could decide to come back work without an agreement.
“There are reasons to be encouraged,” he said. “We had an increase in ticket sales last year versus the previous year and we’ve had good results from fundraising. We need to do more to expand the family of audience members and donors. It’s very important we do that.”
Founded more than a century ago, the BSO’s last work stoppage was in 1988 and into early 1989. While they normally play more than 130 concerts per year, their future is in jeopardy.
“It’s important we start our new season. We’ve announced the lockout will end in September and we wish our musicians will come back to the stage,” Kjome said. “As they’ve said, they would like to have a contract in place before that time and our efforts are continuing to reach that objective.”
The musicians have been working under one-year deals for the past few years, Kjome said.
They’re calling for a multi-year contract agreement instead of living year-to-year.