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Philharmonic, musicians OK 1-year contract with deep cuts

– After more than nine months of negotiations, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Executive Board and its musicians have reached a final ratification for a new one-year contract, the Philharmonic announced Friday.

Both parties have reached an agreement that tries to balance the artistic quality with the fiscal challenges facing the orchestra.

The Philharmonic board voted to ratify the new contract under the terms that the musicians will take a reduction of 40 paid weeks to 33, amounting to a 17.5 percent loss in wages. Full-time musicians will maintain their positions and their health insurance coverage.

The Philharmonic Players Association agreed to the terms Feb. 14.

With the organization running a reported deficit of more than $2.3 million, the Philharmonic has already cut administrative office positions, with the remaining staff taking cuts in pay and benefits.

As part of the new agreement, musicians will serve on the Phil’s Vision and Planning Committee and help with fundraising and discussions on concert profitability.

“We are profoundly grateful to our musicians for their spirit of shared sacrifice,” Fort Wayne Philharmonic President and CEO J.L. Nave III said in a statement. “Like so many cultural organizations around the country, The Phil struggles to balance our artistic aspirations with the economic challenges.

“I knew that both sides needed to give some in order to make this work. This agreement speaks volumes of The Phil’s commitment to each other as an institution and to the northeast Indiana region.”

Nave could not be reached for additional comments Friday.

The contract goes into effect immediately and will affect the orchestra’s community outreach and performances. The contract will run through Dec. 31, giving the musicians union a chance to come back to the negotiating table before the year ends and try to compensate for loss wages.