Symphony lags in paying its musicians
What ever happened to the Honolulu Symphony's cash flow problem that forced its musicians to forgo their pay during the holidays?
Answer: Two weeks before the end of the 2008 season, the symphony still faces a $1.5 million budget shortfall and is nine weeks behind in pay for its musicians and staff. The symphony has 63 full-time orchestra members. The base pay for a musician is about $33,000, covering a 32-week concert season.
Musicians continue to play without a paycheck in support of the administration with faith in its ability to balance the budget, said Paul Barrett, chairman of the players committee and the principal bassoonist.
"We feel we can trust them to represent our best interest," Barrett said. He added that symphony members are also making the sacrifice for Hawaii. "We're an integral part of the cultural life in this community."
Meanwhile, symphony members struggle to make ends meet; some have picked up teaching jobs. Barrett and his wife, an assistant concertmaster, are awaiting more than $20,000 in pay.
He said the symphony lost money with smaller ticket sales and the cost of changing venues after it relocated for "The Lion King." The Legislature denied a request for $810,000 in funding this year.
"The plan is to continue to work on our sources of private funding, grants from foundations," said symphony spokeswoman Kristin Jackson. "We're looking at hopefully having a record-breaking Symphony Ball this year."
The ball, the symphony's largest annual fundraiser, which will be held this year on May 17, has raised up to $500,000 in the past. (For more information, call 524-0815, ext. 244, or e-mail email@example.com.)
"Any money that's raised will go towards musicians' salaries first and foremost," Jackson said. While the season ends May 18, ticket sales for next season have been going well, she said. "We want to assure people we will be around next season, and the best thing they can do at this point is to donate or buy season tickets."
This update was compiled by Star-Bulletin reporter Robert Shikina.
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