After more than two months of negotiations, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and the Nashville Musicians Association have reached a tentative agreement over a new musicians’ contract. Details of the agreement are being kept confidential pending ratification by the musicians.
“The new agreement is not as progressive as it has been in past years,” says one source familiar with the agreement who requested anonymity due to the ongoing media blackout. “But it’s still good because it resolves a lot of issues.”
Musicians initially faced a proposal for steep cuts from the symphony, which had been under financial duress for months due to heavy debt on its Schermerhorn Symphony Center. According to an email from the NMA to the musicians obtained by the Scene, the Nashville Symphony initially sought a 30-percent cut in the musicians’ compensation, from an annual base salary of $60,000 to around $42,000. The initial proposal also called for cutting the length of the season from 44 weeks to 36.
The union and symphony management reached the tentative agreement Thursday night. Musicians are now on their summer break, with some traveling abroad, so a final vote is not expected until sometime next week.
Balko describes one such raid in Chapter 9 of the book, which publisher PublicAffairs was nice enough to allow us to run as an edited excerpt in the current issue of the Scene. A door is smashed, dogs are shot and killed, and the house is ransacked. And oh yeah, it's the mayor's house.
"Even once the police realized they had made a mistake," Balko writes, "they never offered to clean up the blood, to put the house back together, or to fix the front door." Read more here.
The event tonight at Parnassus Books starts at 6:30 p.m.
Even advertising you can't buy comes at a price.
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced this afternoon that it has approved a grant of up to $12.5 million to support the local production of ABC’s Nashville. Metro will also chip in with a $500,000 cash grant.
ECD noted that the grant will be based on “qualified expenditures,” defined as “those incurred in the state for goods or services purchased from a Tennessee vendor or paid to a Tennessee resident in connection with the production.”
The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. and the Event Marketing Fund will each contribute a cash grant of $125,000. The production is expected to generate more than $40 million in local spending, according to ECD.
“Small and large Nashville businesses have benefited greatly from the local filming of Nashville, not only from the direct spending related to the show but also from the worldwide attention this show has generated for our city and our state. With beautiful scenic shots of our landscape and the portrayal of our unique music scene, more people, without a doubt, are visiting our city and spending their money here because they’ve seen this hour-long commercial for Music City that airs every week during prime time,” said Dean, in a prepared statement. “The city’s investment in Nashville this season is a recognition that this show benefits our local economy and is opening doors to further grow the film and television industry here.”
The show is set to begin filming in mid-July.
The terms of the Nashville Symphony deal are just coming to light. From Steve Cavendish in the CP:
The Nashville Symphony and its creditors announced a deal on Monday to restructure its debt and avoid foreclosure on the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
“After months of discussion with our lenders, we are pleased to have reached a comprehensive resolution that represents the best path forward for all parties involved,” said Ed Goodrich, chairman of the Nashville Symphony Association. “With a healthier balance sheet, the Symphony will be in a better position to pursue its cultural mission of engaging the community, enriching audiences and shaping cultural life through musical excellence and educational vision.”
Terms of the settlement were not released, but a new $20 million mortgage was filed with the Davidson County Register of Deeds just before noon on Monday.
Multiple sources told The City Paper that Bank of America will write off between $30 million and $40 million of the more than $80 million in debt related to the construction of the Schermerhorn. It was not announced where the gap between the new mortgage and the old loan will be made up, but the Nashville Business Journal reported on Saturday that longtime patron Martha Ingram was involved in the final settlement.
Another sour note coming from the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
The Nashville Symphony laid off its entire catering and dining staff this morning, aiming to cut costs “not directly related to our core mission."
“After August 4, the Nashville Symphony will continue to rent the building for events, but will use a system of pre-approved, 'preferred' caterers,” chairman Ed Goodrich and CEO Alan Valentine said in a statement. “We are in negotiation with those caterers now and expect to publish the list shortly. We look forward to continuing to work with our many rental clients and want to assure them the Schermerhorn remains one of Nashville’s first-class destinations for special events. We will also, of course, continue to provide concessions and bar service for all concerts and events.”
If the symphony cannot reach some kind of agreement with Bank of America regarding its outstanding debt, the Schermerhorn will be auctioned off on June 28.
Bolder and fresher than ever before...
Bill O'Reilly, godfather of "no spin" and in-your-face television, and Dennis Miller, the king of references and rants, are teaming up to take the country by storm!
VIP Ticket Packages include:
An opportunity to meet Bill and Dennis immediately after the show
An opportunity to take a picture with Bill and Dennis
An autographed gift to take home
With a VIP ticket, your VIP credentials (including the location of the meet and greet) will be available at the Box Office one hour prior to the show. Don't forget to bring your camera!
We should note here that the top VIP package costs $502, with other tickets available at $127, $97 and $77. There is literally more information about the VIP packages than about the show itself, so we're not sure what "bolder and fresher" means. Have O'Reilly and Miller added just the right amount of chipotle to the tzatziki sauce, giving their hand-rolled falafel a tangy kick like no other? Just how much bolder and fresher could they possibly be than ever before when they are already so incredibly bold and fresh? I guess we'll just have to go see for ourselves. Surely it's an experience we'll "never forget."
At The City Paper, Steve Cavendish has a first-rate analysis of Bank of America's declared foreclosure on the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, which he reads as ninth-inning hardball in a heated negotiation gone all too public:
The two sides have been negotiating over the terms of the debt, which was used to build the beautiful hall for an award-winning set of musicians, for some time. In a letter to patrons on Wednesday, the symphony acknowledged a decline in revenue, noting that it “is operating at a loss and needs to take aggressive action to get its finances in shape.”
But the biggest financial problem — and one that’s not going away — is service on their construction debt. Whether you believe that the 2010 flood caused greater problems than they could have anticipated, as the symphony claims, or that the organization has been burning through money at an unsustainable rate for years, as the banks claim, there is still more than $80 million in outstanding debt.
Bankers were furious that the symphony declined to renew a letter of credit in the spring. Sources told The City Paper in April that they had even examined legal options against the board for a failure of oversight on the symphony’s finances.
What we’re witnessing is a giant game of chicken. Unable to negotiate better terms, the symphony walked away from the previous deal. Unwilling to be strong-armed into reducing the debt, Bank of America called the symphony’s bluff and announced foreclosure.
The NSO doesn't want to lose its world-class concert hall and home, and the banks can't want it if they hope to recoup upwards of $80 million. After all, the facility is what it is — a concert hall built to the specifications of a symphony orchestra — which stands to make the announced June 28 auction date the biggest white-elephant sale in the city's history.
So: How do we save the symphony — and we must — without poisoning the fiscal well for other worthy arts organizations that approach local banks with ambitious plans? At this point, we're not ruling out Kickstarter.
In this week's issue of the Scene, Adam Gold reports on the unfolding drama surrounding whether the prime-time soap of which our city is the star — or at least, the title character — will continue to be produced in our city.
In this week's issue of The City Paper, J.R. Lind says if Nashville wants more out of Nashville than the locations, authenticity and cash the city is already offering, then the show can hit the road.
From his Weekly Obsession:
The show’s producers are lobbying for more state and local tax incentives to remain on-site, which creates a convenient excuse for them to decamp to L.A. or wherever if they are denied them.
And that’s unfortunate, because the answer from Metro and the state should be a stiff no. For all the feel-goods having a major network show gives us, incentivizing them to shoot here is like paying a rich friend to take a pretty girl to the prom.
To be continued...
After Nashville's season finale last night, Adam Gold has the story of the real cliffhanger in this week's Scene.
"I just didn't see how you could [shoot the show outside Nashville]," creator and executive producer Callie Khouri told the Scene before the series premiered last fall. "Nashville really bent over backwards to give us the tax credits and make it possible for us to do it here."
Some might say the city bent over forward. The show ultimately scored a 17 percent tax credit from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and a 15 percent refundable tax credit from the Tennessee Department of Revenue. As a result, the show reportedly recouped 32 percent of its hefty production costs in its first season.
Now, though, the city and state might not be able to bend over quite as far, as state law now imposes a 25 percent cap on reimbursements. Consequently, Lionsgate is reportedly threatening to relocate the show — perhaps to L.A., where many on the cast and crew are based, or perhaps to somewhere like Georgia, which is quickly becoming the Studio City of the South.
Fresh off the grand opening of the Music City Center, Nashville Convention and Visitors
Bureau Corp president and CEO Butch Spyridon even says his organization would throw in some cash to keep the show in town.
Longtime Pith readers will recognize the name Merle Hazard, the boot-scootin' financial-theme singer that our own Bruce Barry once called "Nashville's answer to the question, 'Why hasn't the country music industry produced more hat acts with a bent for neo-classical microeconomics and the marginal rate of substitution?' " Well, ol' Merle is back with a new and all-too-timely animated video for his indelible hit, "Fiscal Cliff." This one's a touch more Surf City than Music City, but it's still catchy and sequestration-fearing as can be.
(HT: PBS NewsHour.)
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