An Important Message to the Springfield Symphony Orchestra Community

June 2, 2021

Dear Friend of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra,

As our region emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic we see a different landscape for many bedrock institutions in the region such as the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. As we begin to find our footing in the post-pandemic world, the Board and management of the SSO are in the process of addressing long standing challenges in meeting our mission to provide symphonic music to the region.

Recent communications and media coverage has brought to light the absence of a labor agreement with the union representing SSO musicians. We continue to work in good faith towards a settlement with the union that will allow for a limited season of live performances in the near term. The Board is also involved in the critical strategic planning needed to assess the Symphony’s viability going forward.

We are writing today to address some of the issues we are confronting in building a healthy SSO that can flourish now and into the future. The SSO has had a number of challenges, made more complicated by the pandemic and the impact on live musical performances and the arts in general.

  • Despite what you may have heard, the SSO Board of Directors is fully functional, and has retained all members except for two whose terms have just recently expired. It is in the process of seeking qualified volunteers to fill vacant positions.
  • The SSO is planning for a partial season for 2021-2022 which requires negotiations with the musicians’ union to reach an appropriate agreement.
  • While conversations about future programming and conducting are in process with Maestro Kevin Rhodes, the SSO currently does not have an agreement with him, as his contract expired on May 31. The SSO cannot know the appropriate terms of a contract for the Music Director until it has firmed up its planning for this coming season, and that depends on the outcome of negotiations with the musicians’ union.
  • The SSO has sustained very large losses over the last decade despite attempts to improve its fundraising, programming, and marketing.
  • The strategic planning process that the SSO is currently engaged in has provided many ideas for both performances and fundraising that we are acting upon.
  • The Board, through this ongoing strategic planning process, is also determining the tools it has or needs to sustain the organization.
  • The SSO needs to use our next season to determine whether audiences will attend in sufficient numbers and whether community support is sufficient to ensure its sustainability.
  • The SSO would like its musicians to give it the flexibility to balance the desire to produce live, high quality, professional music with the financial reality of doing so in the Greater Springfield area. This requires an agreement giving it the flexibility to adapt quickly to developments and changing circumstances.
  • One of the SSO’s key functions is its educational programming and youth orchestras. These programs are fully functional, well-staffed, thriving, and looking to the future.
  • Upon the resignation of the former Executive Director in April, Development Director John Anz was requested by the Board to serve as Interim Executive Director to manage staff and operations during this critical time for the SSO.
  • The SSO Board and staff continue to work together to plan and prepare for the 2021-2022 season and beyond.

We want to assure our many patrons, benefactors, friends, music lovers, and the community at large that we continue to work diligently to build a future for the SSO that is attainable and allows us to meet our mission.

We appreciate all of the constituencies that represent the SSO family. We look forward to sharing our plans with you as we work toward strengthening the Symphony as it emerges from a devastating pandemic.

Thank you for your interest and for your support of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.

Sincerely,

Board of Directors
Springfield Symphony Orchestra