Arts/Culture
1:34 pm
Fri September 16, 2011

Contract allows GR Symphony “to focus on making music”

The Grand Rapids Symphony has reached a labor agreement with its 80 musicians. The deal comes after several months of intense contract negotiations. 

“Someone counted that we had 29 meetings during the summer,” said Peter Kjome, Grand Rapids Symphony President and CEO.

“It was not an easy time at the negotiating table but we stayed there together, we rolled up our sleeves, we reached agreement and now we’re able to focus on making music.”

Symphonies and other professional arts organizations have gone through lots of challenges since the recession hit.

In 2009 musicians at the Grand Rapids Symphony agreed to take pay cuts that averaged 10 percent. Administrators, including symphony president and CEO Peter Kjome,  took a 20 percent pay cut.

Under the new four-year agreement, musicians will keep a pay freeze this year. They’ll get a two percent raise in each of the next two years.

Starting salary for a full-time musician at the Grand Rapids Symphony is $35,000. Fifty of the 80 musicians there are full time.

Almost 100,000 people attend the Grand Rapids Symphony each year. Tickets range from $18 to $90 per show. Students can get in for $5 under a special program.