Dear Lyric Opera Patron,
You may have heard that the union representing our orchestra members, the Chicago Federation of Musicians (CFM), went on strike yesterday as we continue critical contract negotiations with them. All of us at Lyric are deeply saddened by this harmful decision, and share a goal of resuming our season as quickly as possible. We are very enthusiastic about recent Lyric seasons and hope you share our enthusiasm. At the same time, we must ensure we reach agreements that allow us to continue presenting world-class opera for many years to come.
We are happy to pay musicians well for the exceptional work they do during the weeks they are rehearsing and performing, but we can’t afford to pay for extra weeks when the orchestra isn’t utilized. For example, our performance season is only 22 weeks, but we are currently obligated to pay for 24 weeks of wages. We would like to adjust the guaranteed weeks to match our season length.
At our core, Lyric’s mission is to support, nurture and share our artform. We know that all of you share in that passion. Unfortunately, our broader operating environment has become more challenging so we have been working both to secure new sources of revenue to support grand opera and lower our costs.
Over the last several years, we have carefully and systematically examined every facet of Lyric's operations — administrative, artistic, and technical — and created a plan for Lyric's evolution. Many changes have been made to strengthen our financial position with the goal of protecting the integrity, scale, and power of grand opera for many generations to come. We highly value our musicians — and all of our artists — and want to work with them to secure a strong future for Lyric. These are the issues at the heart of our current contract negotiations.
Two of our largest union groups — IATSE and AGMA — have agreed to collaborate with us. IATSE has already ratified an agreement with terms similar to what we have proposed to CFM and AGMA leadership has accepted a similar agreement subject to member ratification.
None of us take lightly the decision to cancel performances, which is the immediate consequence of CFM’s decision to strike.
Now, more than ever, we ask you to stay with us. Your understanding and expressions of support are essential to get us through this difficult time.
We will keep you informed of our progress. We are confident that our decisions, with the full support of Lyric's Board, will allow us to emerge a stronger, more vibrant and more relevant company for you.