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Florida Orchestra cuts staff, salaries for next season

ST. PETERSBURG — The Florida Orchestra has laid off three staff members and instituted pay cuts for next season. "We didn't really get hit by the recession until January,'' said president Michael Pastreich, adding that the orchestra has had a drop-off in single-ticket sales and donations in the troubled economy.

The layoffs, which Pastreich said yielded savings of about $250,000, included the comptroller, a data base manager and a ticket center coordinator, leaving a full-time staff of about 20. The pay cuts start with the president, whose $175,000 salary will be reduced by 10 percent on July 1. Staffers making $75,000 or more will have their salaries cut 7.5 percent; those making $50,000 and more, 5 percent; and those making under $50,000 will have their pay frozen.

Orchestras around the country have been making similar moves. This week, the Phoenix Symphony's musicians, music director and management staff agreed to take a 17 percent pay cut over the next three years.

The Florida Orchestra may have to consider renegotiating its labor contract with the musicians, but Pastreich said "that is not on the table until after June 30.'' That's when the orchestra's fiscal year closes, and more cuts could be avoided if the budget ends in the black.

Fundraising has been tough, although the orchestra announced last week a gift of up to $100,000 from Raymond James Financial. "We have about $500,000 of real work to do'' to raise enough new money to balance the $9.9 million budget,'' Pastreich said.

The orchestra's "sustainability'' campaign for long-term stability is not likely to make this fiscal year's goal of $20 million. So far, more than $14 million has been raised. "There are people who care about the organization and are likely to lend significant support, but the world first needs to become less scary,'' Pastreich wrote in a memo.

On the plus side, Pastreich said masterworks subscription sales for 2009-10 are ahead of where they were at this point last year.

New chairman: Howard Jenkins of Tampa is in line to become chairman of the orchestra board on July 1. He will succeed Jay B. Starkey Jr., who held the position for a year. Jenkins, 57, is son of the founder of Publix Super Markets Inc. and was chairman of the Lakeland-based company's board until 2008.

Sanderling contract: Music director Stefan Sanderling and the orchestra have tentatively agreed to extend his contract three more years through 2013-14. Sanderling was paid $252,000 in 2006-07, the most recent figure available.

Departure: Oboe and English horn player Andrea Overturf is leaving to join the San Diego Symphony next season.

John Fleming can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716. He writes for Critics Circle at

Florida Orchestra cuts staff, salaries for next season 05/21/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 22, 2009 2:31pm]
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