Chairperson Bruce Ridge made a site visit (January 19–21) to the Twin Cities to meet with musicians from both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. As usual with such visits, Bruce also met with others interested in the orchestras. Below are reports from the delegates of those orchestras as well as a short addendum by Minnesota librarian and ICSOM Governing Board member Paul Gunther.
On Monday evening, musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra gathered informally at the home of our librarian, ICSOM Member at Large Paul Gunther, to meet Bruce and to discuss current conditions and concerns at the Orchestra. Bruce spent the next day visiting Minnesota Orchestra rehearsals and addressing the musicians at a full orchestra meeting.
The worsening economic conditions and their effect on the arts concern all of us greatly. In speaking about these issues Bruce gave us a report on how various orchestras have been weathering the storm. He spoke very eloquently of his belief that the current downturn was a matter of managing short-term debt and shouldn’t be looked at as opportunities for managements to rewrite our contracts. Bruce also made a pitch for our individual involvement in Americans for the Arts. With a wealth of facts and figures at his command he showed (as many of us had learned at the ICSOM Conference last summer) that, rather than being a luxury, the arts are an important part of the economic vitality of a community. It helped put some perspective on the doom and gloom we’ve been hearing and helped remind us of the importance of what we do.
While on the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi, Bruce also met with Executive Director Michael Henson. Bruce and Paul met also with the AFM Local 30-73 board of directors, and with President Brad Eggen and Secretary-Treasurer Tom Baskerville. The Minneapolis/Saint Paul local board and officers have long been strong supporters of both the Minnesota Orchestra and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
—Norbert Nielubowski, Minnesota Orchestra ICSOM Delegate
As ICSOM delegate, every year I am inspired by the speeches given by the officers at the ICSOM Conference and am eager to return home and share that inspiration with my colleagues. It was a great luxury for me that Bruce Ridge was able to speak directly to my colleagues during his brief visit to the Twin Cities.
During his visit to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra on January 21, he reminded us that Lynn Erickson had been a fabulous Conference coordinator when the ICSOM Conference was here two years ago, and that it had been one of his favorite Conferences of all time. As Norbert mentioned earlier, Bruce tries to spread the message that the arts are very important to our local economy, and he had ready all the figures about our local arts and their economic impact on our community. He also encouraged us to question our management thoroughly regarding our internal financial situation, especially whenever we consider possible cuts to ensure the health of our organization.
That day Bruce also attended an SPCO rehearsal and, accompanied by our orchestra committee chair, Skip James, met with our new CEO, Sarah Lutman. That evening several of us gathered over some appetizers and beers with Bruce at Nye’s Polonaise Room to give him a glimpse of our local color.
—Leslie Shank, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra ICSOM Delegate
Elsewhere in this publication Bruce describes most eloquently how affecting it was for him (and, I might add, all of us) to observe the Obama inauguration ceremony for a few moments in the Minnesota Orchestra musicians’ lounge before speaking to those of us gathered there during our break between rehearsals. I’m glad Bruce was here and able to share that with us.
On behalf of the ICSOM Governing Board and delegates Leslie Shank and Norbert Nielubowski, I am most grateful to the SPCO musicians committee and their committee chair, Skip James, and to the Minnesota Orchestra Members Committee and MOMC Chair Dave Williamson, for extending their respective invitations to Bruce to visit the Twin Cities and our orchestras.