Weathering the Storm

Turbulence in the Financial Markets Continues

Volume CVIII, No. 11November, 2008

Jay Blumenthal
In this article, Jay Blumenthal references the ICSOM conference. On a related note, Local 802 member Anthony Scelba attended the annual conference of the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association (ROPA) this summer and filed a report for Allegro. Tony’s story can be found here.

As Allegro goes to press, the turbulence in the financial markets continues unabated. Economic uncertainty and eroding consumer confidence has always been a recipe for market volatility within the context of an overall market decline. This has serious implications for you, your family and the arts organizations that generate our work.

Arts organizations are certainly not immune to the current economic crisis. Some have already experienced a decline in ticket sales and many have expressed concern over the likelihood of reduced corporate sponsorship, private donations and government support. Of course bad economic times affect us all, but particularly musicians who are so dependent on the financial health of the few arts organizations that employ us. Local 802 will closely monitor our state and local governments with regard to their continued support for the arts.


Our industry has been an important economic engine for the economy. In fact, this summer’s conference of ICSOM (the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians) had as its keynote speaker Randy Cohen, vice president of policy and research for the Americans for the Arts, based in Washington, D.C. His presentation documented the economic benefits that accrue to cities that offer a strong cultural component. While musicians have always known they bring special value to their communities, it was interesting to see the data quantified and graphically displayed by an independent organization.

Maureen Kilkelly, the executive director of the AFM pension fund, made a report to the conference about the health of the fund, newly added capabilities to the fund’s Web site and intended future improvements to the site. While her report was made prior to the current economic crisis, a recent posting on the fund’s Web site states:

“The financial markets continue to suffer from extreme volatility, and equity markets have plummeted over the last several months. The fund, like virtually all institutional investors, has seen the market value of its investment portfolio drop significantly over this period. Because the fund’s assets are well diversified, the drop in value is not as large as the drop in the Dow Jones Industrial average or other stock market indices. Nonetheless, this financial environment continues to be exceptionally challenging for all institutional investors, and the fund’s Board of Trustees continues to carefully monitor the fund’s asset allocation and its investment managers.”


Local 802 continues to urge the city and state to do whatever is possible to save city venues which are so necessary for our continued employment. Most recently we have been involved in the fight to save Legacy Recording Studios. (Please see the petition above.) Additionally, we have begun a campaign to encourage producers to record in New York. (See the back page for a sample of our new brochure.) Lastly, Local 802 has been working with other entertainment unions and the broader labor community to ensure that one unified voice is heard in support of working men and women during these difficult economic times. Rest assured that we will continue to speak out as your union about the issues that affect you and your families.