Conductor Nicolas EllisMay 2021: Conductors on the move, musicians host radio, and institutions building back better. Photo: Conductor Nicolas Ellis

 

It is now almost an entire year since I last played an orchestral concert. I believe this is the longest I’ve gone without playing one in my entire post-pubescent life.


This week, more on how COVID-19 has affected the arts in general and musicians in particular; the streaming wars; the Metropolitan Opera furlough; and the death of James Levine. (Image: from Toronto Symphony/Against the Grain Theatre's Messiah/Complex)

Image from TSO/AGT's Messiah/Complex

In 1966, the United Nations adopted a resolution setting aside March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and since then, governments and organizations around the world have chosen to mark this day and the week around it with programs both to educate the public and to call for action to eliminate racial discrimination.

As an organization that seeks to build community through the arts, the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) strongly condemns any forms of racial discrimination and crimes against ethnic communities.

by Michelle Zapt-Belanger

 

In April 2020, the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra held two entirely digital, contactless auditions.

by Robert Fraser, OCSM President

 

It is difficult to believe the OCSM executive last met face to face in Toronto on February 22–23, 2020, just over a year ago.

by Matt Heller, with Tamsin Johnston and Miles Newman

 

When it comes to Collective Agreements (CAs), there’s one thing to note about notice: it’s everywhere. You could fill a rather large spreadsheet with all the notice requirements from an average CA, (If you do this, please send it to me.) So let’s start by getting more specific.

OSM MD Designate Rafael PayareThis week: taking stock amid the crisis; notable performances; and a new MD in Montreal.

OSM's first return to the stage following shutdownWith 2020 at an end, we sample recent coverage of the pandemic’s economic impacts on the arts industry, as well as the arts industry's size and importance to the larger economy. (Photo: OSM's return to the stage, June 8, 2020)

 

Unemployment has affected the arts even more deeply than restaurants and other hard-hit industries, the NY Times reports. Even well-known soloists, such as violinist Jennifer Koh, have resorted to public assistance programs. Adam Krauthamer, president of AFM Local 802 (New York City), warns that careers could be lost, potentially leading to a great cultural depression.

Another NY Times report focused on pandemic concessions, including major pay cuts at the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, and National Symphony. Stagehands at the Kennedy Center and Metropolitan Opera are locked out, and Met Opera musicians are in tense negotiations. ICSOM chair Meredith Snow noted many examples of cooperation, however: “There is more of a recognition that we need to be a unified face to the community, and that we can’t be squabbling or we’re both going to go down.

The arts industry contributes more to the US economy than agriculture, transportation, or warehousing, according to a 2019 study by the US Bureau of Economic Studies and the National Endowment for the Arts, ArtsNet reported. The study also found the arts growing slightly faster than the economy as a whole.

Statistics Canada’s most recent Provincial and Territorial Cultural Indicators report (2018) found a similar increase in the Canadian arts sector, even as the publishing industry experienced ongoing losses.

Major think tanks such as Brookings and Center for Strategic & International Studies released reports on the pandemic’s effects on arts and culture, and proposals to rebuild a more resilient creative economy.

European arts institutions, which had begun to rely more on private and corporate giving, have largely weathered the pandemic thanks to government bailouts, the Economist reports. Some see the crisis as an opportunity to move away from a mega-tourism model that turned city centres into “theme parks”.

The Calgary Herald published a year-in-review feature on the local arts scene in 2020, marked by ongoing struggles to sustain and innovate.

 

Compiled by Matt Heller, with assistance by the OCSM Editorial Committee. Do you have a story or comment to share? Please send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I’ll include them in an upcoming news bulletin. Happy new year and best wishes for 2021!

TSO Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador Daniel Bartholomew-PoyserThis week, we delve into recent coverage of diversity in the arts, along with some noteworthy readings and resources.

 

The New Yorker’s Alex Ross published an essay, Black Scholars Confront White Supremacy in Classical Music (Sept. 21, 2020), tracking missed opportunities and renewed efforts to de-marginalize non-white composers and performers. 

 

In July 2020, The New York Times published an Arts feature, “How to Change Classical Music”: 

 

NYC musicians Shea Scruggs and Weston Sprott took a broad look at the symphonic hiring process in a June 2019 article for Local 802’s Allegro newsletter, “Advancing Inclusion: Creative ways musicians can take a lead”

 

Orchestras Canada has a number of initiatives under the banner of IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility):

 

The Institute for Composer Diversity provides a variety of resources, analysis, and advocacy for diverse programming. Their database is currently being reworked, with plans to relaunch in the next few weeks.  

 

“Our stages are not reflective of our population - but this moment is an opportunity to elicit change,” writes dancer/choreographer Kevin A. Ormsby in an essay for CBC Arts, “Pause. Reflect. Rebuild. How the dance world can rise from the ashes of 2020”.

 

Both Ormsby’s article and a 2018 essay in canadianart, “The Great Canadian Amnesia” by Zainub Verjee, examine the legacy of the 1951 Massey Commission Report, which set federal arts and culture policy and granting models still operating today, including the idea of “Canadian content”. 



Compiled by Matt Heller, with assistance from the OCSM Editorial Committee. Please send your comments and suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thank you!