New York Philharmonic pay cuts suggest pandemic will last

Under the financial stress of the pandemic, the New York Philharmonic musicians have agreed to a four-year contract with 25% salary cuts until August 2023.


Although pay will increase from 2023 to 2024, the wage cuts total more than $20 million, and musicians will still be paid less than at the start of the pandemic when the contract ends. Deborah Borda, Chief Executive and President of the orchestra, honestly stated that the cuts were “necessary.” The pandemic will keep the Philharmonic closed for at least 15 months, causing at least $31 million in losses.

Musicians have had wage cuts since May, but this contract is the most substantial. However, musicians at the New York Philharmonic have been understanding. The head of the player’s negotiating committee, Colin Williams, said “in recognition of the challenges of this time, we have done our part to help preserve the institution by forgoing more than $20 million of our wages.”

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In venues like the Metropolitan Opera, where 30% pay cuts have been requested, not all workers are willing to deal with such financial losses. The Met’s management planned to lock out workers who had not agreed to the proposed cuts. The employees of the opera have been without pay since April and will not be paid until the cuts are accepted. After the venue begins to recover financially, the cuts will be reduced to 15%. At the Philharmonic, cuts will drop to 10%.

The Philharmonic has cancelled all planned shows up until June 2021. This is only a portion of NYC’s live art impacted by the pandemic. All Broadway theaters are closed until May 2021 at least, making this the longest time Broadway has been dark, ever.

The contract, which ends in 2024, makes the lasting impact of this pandemic even more visible to the art and music community. Despite live venues’ plan to open sometime this upcoming year, it is clear that the financial road to recovery will be slow.

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