Musicians on Strike

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra musicians strike at brink of season

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra musicians strike at brink of season

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra
Members of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra have gone on strike just as the 2016-17 season is about to begin. Photo by Julian Lambert

Members of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra have gone on strike, according to a statement from the American Federation of Musicians Local 72-147, which represents the orchestra members.

The strike comes just as the symphony was scheduled to open its 2016-17 season, which included a first-time performance at the Winspear Opera House September 16-18, with the Texas Ballet Theater.

The union's statement contends that the musicians were ready to bargain, but management was not. Members of the orchestra have been picketing outside Bass Performance Hall.

The average salary for a symphony musician is about $60,000. Musicians are paid for 46 weeks annually, which includes 42 days of paid leave and vacation.

A statement from symphony management describes their financial condition as "precarious," and says they're at an impasse and cannot pay what the union wants.

"Corporate giving is significantly down due to mergers, acquisitions, and changing giving priorities," the statement says. "Local government giving is a fraction of its previous levels. Revenue generated by the orchestra's endowment has been down for several years. The downturn in oil and gas has negatively impacted the level of philanthropic gifts.

"Meanwhile, expenses have been on the rise. Due to these factors, we anticipate a nearly $700,000 deficit for the 2016-17 season on a budget of $12 million."