We’re outraged to report that the musicians of the New York City Ballet Orchestra, whose contract expired August 31, are not being offered the wages and healthcare they deserve and are instead being asked to make financial concessions once again.
These musicians bring the magic of live music to the most celebrated dancers, night after night. They are cultural ambassadors who help make New York City the artistic capital of the world.
During the pandemic, ballet management didn’t pay its musicians for over a year, from June 2020 to September 2021. Then, management imposed a 15 percent wage cut on the orchestra, at the musicians’ most vulnerable moment. During this same time period, the NYC Ballet had an endowment that was worth $263 million.
The ballet’s fundraising efforts have been robust and ticket sales have now exceeded 100 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The ballet even received more than $10 million in government support during the pandemic. A fair proposal to musicians would cost only a fraction of the ballet’s operating budget. Yet ballet management refuses to be transparent with financial information to justify its insulting offer to musicians.
To put it bluntly: ballet orchestra musicians are already being paid 9.3 percent less than in 2019. With more than 15 percent inflation, their purchasing power is 23 percent less than in 2019. Musicians and their families have suffered tremendous hardship as a result of this double hit of staggering inflation and the substantial pay cut that management imposed.
We urge the ballet to do the right thing and offer a fair proposal to its musicians that makes up for the sacrifices they were forced to endure during the pandemic — as well as inflation. We’ll do everything in our power to assist the musicians in their fight for the dignity and respect they deserve.