Highlights of the 2013 OCSM Conference

The 2013 OCSM Conference was held in Saskatoon, SK, August 14-18, 2013.

1. Conference dedicated to Evelyne Robitaille. Past president of OCSM and a feisty, determined advocate for Canadian symphonic musicians, Evelyne passed away on February 17th, 2013. The Conference was dedicated to her memory.

2. Strategic Planning for OCSM. With help from arts consultant Drew McManus and others, OCSM engaged in strategic planning for the first time in recent memory. Focuses included better using existing resources; ways to assist Orchestra Committees; succession planning; and internal communications. Several initiatives have been started, and the Strategic Planning Committee will stay active.

3. New Electronic Media Chair position. Recognizing the need for leadership in electronic media, and the complexities involved, the OCSM Executive proposed the creation of a standing Electronic Media Chair, who will report to the OCSM Executive, serve as OCSM's representative to Musicians' Rights Organization Canada (MROC), and serve as OCSM's main point person for national media agreements. This new position is on a trial basis for a two-year term. OCSM Delegates approved it, and the Executive appointed Rob McCosh. 

4. Advocacy. OCSM’s Government and Communications Committee will circulate a questionnaire to all OCSM members, a “Cultural Footprint Survey”. This will be used to show the wide range of benefits communities derive from symphonic musicians’ presence, and the economic contribution that 1100 symphony musicians provide locally and nationally. OCSM will be involved in the Orchestras Canada Advocacy Committee and attend the Arts on the Hill interaction with politicians and civil servants in Ottawa this fall. 

5. Musicians' Pension Fund of Canada. This past year, the OCSM Executive led an effort for an independent consultation on the recent Pension Fund changes. MPF completed that review (the report is available), and brought its own actuary Phil Rivard and legal counsel Mike Mazzucca to Saskatoon to provide context and detail on those changes, and to answer extensive questions from Delegates.

6. Musicians' Rights Organization Canada. New CEO Margaret McGuffin and board chair Dave Jandrisch gave an intro to MROC, and sought Delegate's input on a drive to register Canadian symphonic musicians widely so that payments of orchestral recordings can proceed. OCSM Delegates passed a resolution urging members to register with MROC, so that MROC can study distribution models to pay symphonic musicians for their recorded work. 

7. Concern for US orchestras, and extension of OCSM Relief Fund policies. Delegates heard reports on US orchestra lockouts and passed a resolution urging the Minnesota Orchestra board and management to comply with requests for financial information, negotiate in good faith, and end the lockout. Delegates also approved a bylaw change extending the use of the OCSM Relief Fund to help support US orchestras and AFM/CFM Locals. (The OCSM Executive, who serve as Trustees, have established guidelines which cap expenditures at $500; higher amounts require approval of a majority of Delegates.)

8. Conference Topics. As always, OCSM Delegates discuss and exchange information about a wide range of topics. This year topics included national and international auditions; workload issues; chamber music and education work done under symphony auspices; liability insurance while at work; employment insurance; policies on return to work after injury; relations between concert halls and orchestras; symphonic media initiatives, the CBC, and the future of symphonic media; and much more.

9. New OCSM Executive Board elected. The 2013-14 OCSM executive and adjunct officers:

Robert Fraser, President (Victoria Symphony)
David Brown, 1st VP (Vancouver Symphony)
Liz Johnston, 2nd VP (Canadian Opera Company)
Faith Schofield, Secretary (Windsor Symphony)
Greg Sheldon, Treasurer (Windsor Symphony)

Robert McCosh, Electronic Media Chair (Calgary Philharmonic)
Barbara Hankins, Publications Editor (Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony)
Ken MacDonald, Webmaster (Winnipeg Symphony)
Michael Hope, Conductor Evaluations admin (Calgary Philharmonic)

(With help from past presidents, Francine Schutzman and Matt Heller)

10. Next year's Conference site selection. The Conference Committee has proposed Halifax and London, Ontario as likely locations for the 2014 OCSM Conference.