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Orchestra Musicians Protest, Consider Federal Mediation

The Louisville Orchestra is in the middle of a bankruptcy filling and contract negotiations. This week, the musicians rejected an offer from management, saying it was unfair. Now the management, board and union leaders have agreed to bring in federal mediators, but there's one group that hasn't accepted that process: the musicians.Shortly after three of the four sides released the statement saying federal mediation was on the table, the musicians held a protest outside of the orchestra's offices to publicly reject the latest contract proposal and discuss further mediation."The musicians are still looking for an acceptable mediator," says bargaining committee chair Kim Tichenor.The players—who are part of the union—have met with federal mediators, but want to bring in someone with experience in orchestra contracts. Unless a mediator is found and unless that mediator brings both sides into agreement, the next season won't start this fall, and it could be cancelled altogether. While the management has declined to comment, it's reasonable to say no one wants an abridged season, which could isolate the orchestra's supporters. "We certainly do not want to lose our donors or our fan base," says Tichenor. "We really appreciate them and hope we can put on a full season.""The farther you remain out of the public view, the easier it is for them to forget about you," says Chicago-based arts consultant Drew McManus. He says even though arts groups tend to work together, that doesn't mean there isn't competition for donations. "Having a group that's going to be as big of a player like the Louisville Orchestra out of the scene for an entire year is going to open up doors and opportunities for other groups to move into donors, board members, so on and so forth, and make it that much harder for the Louisville Orchestra to get back up and running again."But while sustaining current supporters is key, the orchestra also has to attract new listeners, like the woman,who saw the protest from across the street and doesn't follow the orchestra."I don't care," she said, standing at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway. "It doesn't make me no difference."