Boston Symphony Orchestra announces pay cuts, furloughs

The BSO said that the measures would "only address a fraction" of the estimated $10.2 million in losses it has suffered so far.

Keith Lockhart.
Keith Lockhart. –Craig F. Walker / The Boston Globe

Facing estimated losses of more than $10.2 million due to the coronavirus, the Boston Symphony Orchestra announced a series of cost-containment measures, including temporary furloughs for 70 full-time staff members and 25 percent salary reductions for its orchestra members through the end of August.

In a press release, the BSO said that the measures would “only address a fraction of the losses” the organization has incurred, but hope that the moves will “help ensure the future of its 139-year legacy.”

The BSO said it has lost an estimated $6.2 million due to the cancellation of more than 130 performances from March 12 through the end of June, including the entire 2020 Boston Pops season, as well as more than $4 million lost due to venue rentals, tour concert cancellations, and other revenue streams.

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“I am forever grateful to everyone here at the BSO who has expressed such grace and understanding regarding the difficult measures we’ve needed to take, though I don’t underestimate in the least the hardship and challenges these cutbacks will create for many of my colleagues,” president and CEO Mark Volpe said in the release. “I want to assure everyone that we are doing everything in our power to evaluate strategically the impact of the pandemic and develop the solutions needed to get the orchestra on track after this crisis has passed.”

Volpe will take a 50 percent reduction in his base salary, while BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons will not receive compensation for all canceled performances and Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart will also take “a substantial cut” in his compensation. In all, the BSO estimates that 80 percent of its full-time staff will be impacted by furloughs and salary reductions, and that 400 part-time personnel were previously furloughed due to concert cancellations.

The BSO previously announced that final decisions about holding the Tanglewood 2020 season, which runs from June 19 to Aug. 30, and the 2020 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular will be made by mid-May.

When the BSO announced the cancellation of the 2020 Boston Pops season earlier this month, it asked that patrons consider donating the value of their unused tickets to the organization. Susan Paine, chairwoman of the BSO board of trustees, thanked those patrons in the release, as well as others who have supported the institution.

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“We are incredibly grateful to all of our deeply devoted patrons, so many of whom have donated the value of their unused tickets back to the BSO,” Paine said. “It is this kind of exceptional generosity which inspires us and that will help make a difference as we emerge from this crisis. It is our intention that through our actions now, we will be better positioned to create a vibrant future for our orchestra and its audiences. We look forward to once again sharing with the world the brilliant music-making of our Boston Symphony Orchestra.”


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