As Allegro goes to press, there are only a few days before the Nov. 7 general election in New York. We urge you to vote for our endorsed candidates (see www.local802afm.org/political-endorsements) and we also urge you to flip your ballot over and vote NO on resolution #1, which is whether or not New York should hold a convention to change our state constitution.
Here are some of the best reasons to vote no, as compiled by the state AFL-CIO:
The biggest reason to vote no is that opening the constitution to change could allow politicians and corporate lobbyists to impact your wages and take away your benefits and rights. A constitutional convention would be controlled by well-funded special interests and career politicians who would dominate the process and take advantage of the system to benefit themselves at your expense. Corporations and their lobbyists could use the convention to weaken workers’ rights and protections. Collective bargaining and benefits for injured workers could all be on the chopping block. With no timeline to complete their work, there could be no end in sight. Albany politicians, their friends and insiders could continue enriching themselves at the taxpayers’ expense for years. And to make matters worse, you’d have to pay the price tag for the convention, which would cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
For more, see Local 802 Political Director Chris Carroll’s piece in this issue or www.nysaflcio.org/noconcon. On Nov. 7, we urge you to VOTE NO on resolution #1! One more crucial detail: the resolution is printed on the reverse side of the ballot. You have to physically turn over the ballot in order to vote NO.
If you don’t know where to vote on Nov. 7, visit nyc.pollsitelocator.com. For any other voting help, call Chris Carroll at (212) 245-4802, ext. 176.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
As usual, there’s a lot of great content in this issue of Allegro:
- You probably remember that Avery Fisher Hall was renamed David Geffen Hall in 2015 after the philanthropist made a $100 million donation to Lincoln Center. If you had $100 million to donate, would you focus on one venue, or would you use the same amount of money to support dozens of music ensembles for years to come? The answer is not simple. You must read Tom Olcott’s article about the choices that big donors make.
- Local 802 member Marin Alsop is one of the top conductors in the world. Read about her incredible journey in music.
- In our ongoing series “If I Were a Musician,” elected officials tell all about their musical tastes, the music in their district…and what instrument they wish they played! Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou and Council Member Corey Johnson are featured this month.
- Sometimes there’s is more to a contract than meets the eye. In his legal column, Harvey Mars explains the concept of past practice, and what every worker should know about it. (This especially applies to musicians in the American Symphony Orchestra!)
- Read about how the outdoor music series Broadway Boosters paid out $11,000 to musicians this year, and how you can apply for next year’s gigs.
- As everyone knows, Republicans failed to kill the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) this year. But did you know that open enrollment is happening right now – but only for a limited time? Act now! See your options here.
- Our Jazz Mentors series is in full swing. Read about our latest forum which featured Camille Thurman, Steve Wilson and Laura Hartmann.
- How much do you know about early instruments? The American Classical Orchestra knows all about them – and it’s the only early music ensemble covered by a Local 802 contract. Read more here.
- This year, the two Local 802 softball teams competed against each other for the Augustino Cup (no, I didn’t come up with that name!). See the results here.
- The Senior Concert Orchestra is older, wiser and playing better than ever. Check out photos from their recent concert at Carnegie Hall.
In this issue of Allegro, you’ll see a bylaw amendment for the Feb. 7 membership meeting. The amendment would divert 0.25 percent of work dues into new public relations projects that the union is creating, including an exciting program called the Emerging Artists Project. (More on that next month.) Please note that this amendment would NOT raise union dues; it merely allocates money within our internal budget. The Local 802 Executive Board has reported this resolution favorably, and I urge members to vote for it on Feb. 7.
The Broadway League recently reported that it is launching the first full year of a program aimed at giving every New York City public high school student the opportunity to see a Broadway show before graduation. The initiative is called Broadway Bridges and it’s taking place with the support of the New York City Department of Education. “The arts are a critical part of a student’s educational experience and this partnership will help ensure that more students have the opportunity to experience and learn from our city’s renowned theatre industry,” said New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, in the League’s press release. “This is an incredible opportunity for students and we thank Broadway Bridges for their partnership in expanding access to the theatre and helping us increase equity across our schools.”
The Broadway Bridges program is offered to public high schools in the five boroughs. It was developed by a group of leading commercial and nonprofit industry professionals to build on the significant work the Broadway community is already doing in bringing New York City students to Broadway. Independently, Lincoln Center Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company and TDF already bring almost 25,000 students to live theatre each year. In complementing the longstanding work of these programs, Broadway Bridges has the ability to reach students who may not otherwise have the chance to attend a Broadway show. Broadway Bridges offers high schools $10 Broadway tickets for their tenth grade students.
The tickets are purchased based on availability and are timed to coincide with the demands of the school calendar. During the pilot phase, over 1,100 students and chaperones from all five boroughs attended one of eight shows. In the fall cycle, participating shows will include: “A Bronx Tale,” “Aladdin,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Kinky Boots,” “Miss Saigon,” “The Band’s Visit,” “The Lion King” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” More will be added in the spring. Broadway Bridges anticipates bringing 7,500 tenth grade students to a show in the 2017/2018 Broadway season and increasing attendance to 17,500 the following season for a cumulative total of 25,000 students through the end of 2019.
I want to honor Lynne Bond, who recently left Local 802 to finish her Ph.D. in mass communication and media arts. Lynne had served initially as a theatre rep and later as the union’s first director of Lincoln Center and theatre activities. Lynne helped us through the Met negotiations and many others, and I valued her help immensely. She will be missed, but we wish her all the best in her future endeavors. We will be hiring a new theatre director and I’ll keep you posted.
I’m also pleased to report that we have promoted Theresa Couture to principal business rep in the Theatre Department. She has been working tirelessly on behalf of Broadway and other theatre musicians for many years. Theresa can be reached by e-mail or (212) 245-4802, ext. 115.
If you or any of your musician friends haven’t joined Local 802 yet, now is the time. We are waiving our initiation fee for new members who join between now and Dec. 31. To take advantage of this offer, call our Membership Department at (212) 245-4802. Please spread the word.
HELPING PUERTO RICO
Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, with most of the island without access to power or clean water. One economist said that it may take up to a decade for the island’s economy to recover. Local 802 is raising funds and collecting supplies for the people of Puerto Rico. To donate or learn more, call my office at (212) 245-4802, ext. 101.
WE’RE ON INSTAGRAM
Local 802 now has an Instagram feed. Check us out at www.instagram.com/musicians_of_ny and see our new series called “Musicians of New York.” Modeled after Brandon Staton’s famous “Humans of New York” photoblog, our series focuses on four different Local 802 members each month. We will provide updates every Wednesday. Please follow us!
ALLEGRO IS NUMBER ONE!
Finally, let me share the good news that our journal Allegro won first place in general excellence in the annual journalism contest of the International Labor Communications Association. We competed against all other labor journals in our circulation class. Thank you to all the members and staff who contribute to Allegro; it is truly a group effort and one that we can all be proud of. It’s a great accomplishment to be number one in the entire country.