San Antonio Symphony's 72 full-time musicians will be unemployed Sunday after the remainder of the orchestra's season was canceled abruptly after a meeting between Symphony management and the musicians' union on Wednesday.The
Besides the musicians, the symphony employs 11 operations staff members.
The symphony's season will end at midnight Sunday, after Friday and Saturday performances for the city of San Antonio's Tricentennial Festival.
"To be treated in this manner, to put the musicians at such hardship as this, out of work after so many promises, is absolutely disgusting," said Craig Sorgi in the San Antonio Express. Sorgi is a violinist and negotiating chairman of the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony. "It’s just incredibly disappointing for the San Antonio Symphony and for the city of San Antonio."
According to multiple news sources, a newly formed nonprofit called "Symphonic Music for San Antonio," funded by San Antonio supermarket chain H-E-B, the Tobin Endowment and the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, had been set up in July to take over the symphony’s assets and operations from the Symphony Society of San Antonio, but the new organization backed out of the deal in December.
Symphonic Music for San Antonio Chairman Bruce Bugg Jr. appeared to blame the AFM's troubled pension fund for an "underfunded pension obligation of more than $4 million" that killed the deal, though the AFM's Pension Plan is a completely separate fund from any symphony operations.
The $4 million appears to be a potential withdrawal liability that would be charged by the ATM should the SMSA pull out from the musicians' pension plan. But there would be no liability should the symphony continue to contribute to the plan as it has in the past, according to a statement from the Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony.
After "Symphonic Music for San Antonio" backed out, the San Antonio Symphony Society resumed responsibility for the orchestra.
Wednesday's decision to suspend the season happened in the midst of contentious contract negotiations between the musicians and symphony management. The previous union contract expired Dec. 31.
The symphony is offering refunds to ticket-holders for shows scheduled after this weekend's performances.
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