By BENTE BOUTHIER
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is the only orchestra of the 52 largest in the country to terminate health insurance for furloughed musicians.
The symphony orchestra’s management and musicians will meet in the coming weeks to talk about options for pay and benefits.
Since the pandemic began, the orchestra has been furloughed twice – in March and in June. The cut to health benefits was part of the most recent furlough.
ISO Committee Chair Brian Smith says many of the orchestra’s members understand the budget is tight since concerts were cancelled for the spring and summer.
But he says management should have talked with musicians before making any decisions about benefits.
He says cutting healthcare during a pandemic wasn’t the right call.
“We’re paying a lot more money out of pocket in a time when we have no income from the orchestra," he says. "It’s kind of a perfect storm of difficulties at the moment.”
Roger Roe plays English horn and the oboe for the symphony orchestra. He says ISO musicians have continued to organize and play public concerts without pay in public spaces like parking lots of churches and gorcery stores since being furloughed.
“We’re an anchor in the arts community for the entire state and we’re all just waiting to get back to doing that, to doing what we all do best,” Roe says.
Since cutting benefits, the orchestra’s management has offered musicians a one-time stipend amounting to about two weeks of the ISO family plan.
Roe says not musicians voted or voiced support of this option.
Management for the ISO did not respond to requests for interview by the time of this story’s publication.