An open letter to the DSO Board of Directors

Dear Esteemed Members of the Detroit Symphony Board of Directors,

Since its inception three short months ago, SOS has tried to be a neutral voice in the struggle between DSO leadership and DSO musicians. Sadly, we find that this is no longer possible. We keep coming back to the same unanswered questions:

  • In September, while the musicians were still under contract, each party in this dispute brought a proposal to the table. Why did leadership, instead of working to come to an agreement, withdraw their proposal, cease to negotiate, and impose a contract that widened the gap between the two parties?
  • If as leadership maintains, this dispute is entirely about money, why have there been items in all of the proposed contracts that drastically and negatively change work rules but do not save the organization any money?
  • Why did leadership immediately refuse the Levin/Granholm proposition, later agree to it, and ultimately reject it again?
  • Why didn’t Stanley Frankel join with Dan Gilbert and Carl Levin as they spent the weekend at Quicken Loans trying to hammer out a deal? As chairman of the board, his presence could have been instrumental in bringing about a resolution.
  • Why did DSO management give Lawrence Johnson of the Detroit Free Press an interview in which they specifically stated a plan to release the musicians from their contract and hire replacements, only to retract that statement and throw Mr. Johnson under the bus?
  • Why does Charity Navigator, a charity rating website, give the DSO an overall rating of one out of five?
  • Why has the DSO donor base been allowed to shrink by 80% in the past 15 years? Why have there been four heads of development in the last five years?
  • Why have we still not received DSO financial information after asking for it repeatedly from board members and management? Why have we not even received an acknowledgment of our requests? Why has management not yet released audited financials for fiscal year ending August 31 2010 to the public?
  • Why does management keep pretending that ‘business is as usual’ at Orchestra Hall? They have no orchestra, and refusals to cross the picket line by artists such as Sarah Chang, Bowfire, Bobby Mcferrin, Canadian Brass and Take 6 have made it clear that they are not going to be able to book major acts. Proceeds from the Civic Ensembles and the CD shop won’t pay management’s salaries let alone the mortgage on the MAX.
  • Why is the annual Classical Roots Gala being held at the MGM Grand instead of the MAX? What is that costing the organization?
  • Why has management not released a financial plan that supports the financial viability of their ‘New Model’?

After much consideration and discussion of these and other questions, we the Board of Directors of SOS have come to the following conclusions:

DSO leadership has never intended to end this impasse in a way that preserves the artistic integrity of the orchestra.

DSO management is inept at best and negligent at worst.

As a result of these conclusions, the Board of Directors of SOS feels it must now align itself squarely with the musicians. We must work to pressure the DSO Board of Directors, specifically the Executive Board headed by Stanley Frankel, to end this crisis now.

Therefore, together, we make the following request of all members of the DSO Board of Directors:

Please convene a meeting of the entire DSO board of directors this week, in which the only matter of business is how to resolve this strike. Question whether current management is up to the task of resolving this crisis and if not, why it has not been replaced. Ask what is being done today to get the musicians of the DSO back on stage. Understand that the fate of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is in your hands.

Thank you

Save our Symphony, Inc.

Judy Doyle, President
Denise Neville, Vice President
David Assemany, Secretary
David Kuziemko, Treasurer


Comments: 2

Leave a reply »

  • Inge Goff

    After performing 26 years of volunteer service for the DSO as an usher, unsher suprvisor and front of hall, I am shocked that the current management and board of Directors should care so little for the survival of our first-class orchestra,
    Why not accept binding arbitration which could leave all participants satisfied with the outcome.
    If mananagement cares so little for the survival of our orchestra, why do tney not find a job more suitable to their preferences. Why not let the whole Board vote whether they want to keep paying a $400 000 salary to a CEO who cares so little for the DSO.

  • David Faulkner

    This is a great step forward in theory. I think it should go further and have this emergency meeting either open to the public as observers or televised on a local cable channel.

  • Leave a Reply
    Your gravatar
    Your Name