What happened?

  • The symphony, and everything else, shut down in March 2020, and we were furloughed in April 2020.
  • We weren’t eligible for WA State Unemployment until the CARES Act was passed.
  • Unemployment was difficult to access because our work is not traditional - many of us didn’t receive benefits until as late as August or September.
  • After months of fighting to return to work, we negotiated an agreement with management for the 2020-2021 season. It was only for 20% of our normal season wages.
  • The Musicians’ Relief Fund distributed community donations to those of us who were unable to survive on our reduced wages during this difficult time.
  • While other orchestras around the country were adapting to restrictions and performing regularly, the only substantial work we did as an orchestra in 2020-2021 was a small number of recorded concerts in April and May
  • Private teaching and other performance work outside of the symphony was also significantly impacted.
  • We returned to the stage and more regular concerts for the 2021-22 season, but we did not see a normal level of activity until 22-23.

Why are we still talking about this?

  • For many decades we have had multi-year contracts. 2020 was the first of a series of one year contracts. This is an organizational burden that keeps us from looking into the future.
  • The massive cuts we saw during COVID, combined with record inflation, have dramatically reduced the value of our wages.
  • Our community has largely moved on from COVID, but because of these challenges, we haven’t been able to put COVID behind us.

What’s next?

  • We are eager to look to the future.
  • We need a multi-year contract to do this.
  • We have a hopeful vision for our future where we are performing more concerts and reaching more students and community members outside of the concert hall.
  • We need better wages and stability for musicians so we can focus on doing what we do best: making music.

Thank you again to everyone who donated to the Musicians’ Relief Fund during COVID. Your generosity kept us going during an extremely difficult time and will not be forgotten.