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BPO Musicians Agree to One Year Contract Extension

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Buffalo Philharmonic musicians offer a one-year contract extension to keep the music playing through the county budget crunch.

The BPO musicians fought vigorously in past years, working to raise their pay more in line with other orchestras. The last contract, set to expire at the end of August, squeaked the base scale up to $41,000 for a 39 week season. And it was nearly time to negotiate again. But the union offered a one-year hold on those talks. Gratefully accepted by management, the extension means a one-year freeze on all contract terms, including wages. BPO Executive Director Dan Hart called the gesture inspirational.

"It's an outstanding move on their part. I don't think anything like this happened like this ever before," said Hart. "I don't know of any other orchestra that has had this kind of offer made from the musicians to management in the spirit of trying to try to solve a problem."

And the problem is that, in recent years, the BPO has watched its county subsidy cut nearly in half. A one time high of over $1 million fell to only $500,000 this year. Hart says that has meant some serious belt-tightening -- and rethinking strategy for the coming years. He says the one-year reprieve from the musicians gives the orchestra breathing room.

"We have to apply all of our best thinking and be in a position to be able to devout our staff and board resources to solving the fundamental problem of our finances," said Hart. "And, if we were engaged in contract negotiations over the next six to eight months, it would take away from that."

Hart says he hopes by next year the orchestra will be in a better position to work out a multi-year agreement with the union. He encourages the public to help out by enjoying the beautiful music being made by the orchestra the rest of the season and at Artpark this summer.