New Approaches for a Sustainable Future

Music Center Entrance Jim Morris
Discover Strathmore Festival Little Boy 2016
Music Center Usher

We acknowledge that the ongoing negotiations with our union colleagues and with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) are complex and nuanced. It’s complicated because committed and passionate people are trying to do what they think is best for their organizations. We all care about getting it right. And we will.  

Contract Negotiations Updates

The past year has been difficult for us all – in so many ways.

And arts institutions like Strathmore were not immune from the pandemic’s long reach. Our stages were suddenly darkened, and our venues closed for nearly 15 months. The silence was deafening.

But we remerge realizing that "returning to normal" doesn’t exist anymore. The pandemic forever changed many things–how we work, how we school, how we shop, and how we entertain. We are forced to recognize that things will look different in the future. It is vital that we embrace new approaches that reflect new realities.  

Some things, though, will never change. Our mission to grow a creative community that benefits all our neighbors. Our passion to spotlight world-class talent and serve as a launch pad for local artists. Our commitment to our employees as they pursue their dreams and provide for their families. 

The entire entertainment community continues to deal with the complexity of re-opening. In spite of the shifting sands beneath our feet, we remain committed to protecting our relationships with our employees and our partners and to reaching agreements that ensure a sustainable future for Strathmore.

We hope that the information on these webpages is helpful, and we appreciate your trust and support during this time. 

Thank you for visiting. Check back often for updates.

Latest Updates

November 30, 2021

FOCUSING ON OUR FUTURE

Our two years of negotiations with IATSE Local 868 – which represents our three full-time and approximately 10 part-time ticket sellers – always has been about two priorities: people, and our future together. 

We are pleased that our latest agreement provides for both. It ensures all of our other employees, artists from around the world, and patrons from across the region can continue to rely on Strathmore as our community’s most vibrant venue for live entertainment, arts education, and events. 

Our new agreement maintains generous wages and benefits for our ticket-sellers and builds in new investments in their professional development, while allowing us to introduce new technology for our patrons’ convenience. It also gives us the flexibility to customize our hours and operations to meet today’s needs and better serve our patrons. This will allow us to manage through difficult and changing times, no matter what we may face together in the future. 

We approached these negotiations thoughtfully, steadily, and with the future in mind. We are pleased that we can now move ahead knowing that the outcome will serve our patrons, our team, and our community well.  

October 27, 2021

A MESSAGE TO OUR PATRONS ADDRESSING BSO CONCERT CANCELLATIONS

Exciting concerts of all genres are happening at Strathmore and music is filling the air. We eagerly welcome everyone back as we work to book new shows and performances for your enjoyment. 

However, we know some remain disappointed in the BSO’s absence so far in our reopening. We at Strathmore share your feelings and are doing everything we can to facilitate their return. Just this week, the BSO agreed to our proposal of mediation to resolve our outstanding contract issues, and we hope that step will help get us to agreement. 

Because we honor our partnerships, we have refrained from responding to much of the recent publicity and misstatements. We have sought to finalize our agreements with the BSO, as well as our contract negotiations with our ticket-sellers’ union, directly.  However, in light of continued confusion and misinformation and as we take this next important step towards resolution, we believe you deserve the facts. We appreciate your trust and want you to be accurately informed.  

  • Live music is playing at Strathmore.
    We began hosting live performances in the Concert Hall in August and are very excited about the nearly 75 performances booked so far for the coming year. We are even more excited about new shows being continually added for the rest of the season. This is already an inspiring music-filled year at Strathmore.  

  • Strathmore is not forcing the BSO to move its shows.
    After reading the BSO’s statements, one might believe that we are somehow forcing the BSO to move its shows to Baltimore; this is simply untrue. The BSO claims that it is “ethically and legally impossible” for them to play at Strathmore; this is also untrue. The BSO claims that we are forcing the symphony’s unionized employees to cross a picket line to play at Strathmore; this too is untrue. The decision of BSO musicians or stagehands to honor a picket line is beyond Strathmore’s control. We would not knowingly make conditions beyond our control part of our obligation to make the Concert Hall available. 

  • The BSO claims that Strathmore is trying to impose new contract language.
    This, too, is not true. 

Every presenter must sign a venue-issued License Agreement and commit to required legal and financial obligations. The BSO has chosen not to sign the venue’s current License Agreement. The BSO’s temporary license proposal fails to address the long-term issues that need to be resolved. BSO and Strathmore are bound by an overriding, multi-year Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that governs our relationship and guides the financial and legal terms of any yearly License Agreement. This year’s License Agreement is completely consistent with the previously agreed upon MOA and merely reiterates to the BSO its prior obligations and responsibilities. The path to resolution of our differences is set out in the MOA, and we are following that path in accordance with its terms. 

  • The BSO has not paid for dates it reserved two years ago and for which it is financially obligated.
    The BSO has first choice of performance dates (even before Strathmore) and can block those dates two years in advance, taking them out of inventory for other potential users. This privilege requires the BSO to be financially responsible for those reserved dates, regardless of use.   

Strathmore has stood by the BSO and provided significant financial support and advocacy throughout its sixteen-year tenure at the Music Center. We have extended exceptional consideration to the BSO, and Strathmore believes it is fair to insist that this partnership be defined by mutual respect and responsibility.   

We greatly value your engagement at Strathmore and hope the BSO chooses to return soon. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing you throughout the 2021-2022 season at Strathmore. We have many wonderful performances and events scheduled. Now more than ever, our community needs the joy and nourishment of live music.  

September 17, 2021

BSO CHOOSES NOT TO EXECUTE 2021-22 AGREEMENT

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has chosen not to sign the annual License Agreement required of all presenters for its season at Strathmore. As a Founding Partner of the Music Center, the BSO is allowed to reserve dates two years in advance, removing them from rentable inventory that would otherwise be available to other community presenters. Based on its 2019 agreement originally reserving its calendar, the BSO is financially obligated for these reserved dates, whether it chooses to play them or not.

The BSO stated publicly that it was choosing not to finalize its annual License Agreement to avoid difficulties with its own unionized musicians and stagehands. (After two years of union negotiations and a deadlock in progress, Strathmore recently implemented new contractual terms for the venue’s three full-time and 10 part-time ticket sellers that maintained prior wages and benefits, while providing flexibility to effectively manage ticket office hours and staffing.)

While Strathmore acknowledges the BSO’s right to make such a choice, the orchestra should not expect Strathmore to pay for that choice when the Concert Hall is available for the BSO’s performances. Strathmore's venues are open and appropriate staffing is available for all shows. We want the BSO to be here for our community, and our offer still stands for them to return under the terms of the License Agreement we require of all presenters. 

So far, more than 70 performances by at least a dozen different presenters have been confirmed with License Agreements since our reopening, and more shows are being added every day. These performances provide important work for artists, stagehands, ticket sellers, and front of house staff at a critical time of recovery.  Strathmore is doing everything in its power to prepare its campus and venues so that our patrons and partners can return to what they love. We hope this intermission to the BSO's season at Strathmore is brief.

September 16, 2021

TICKET-SELLER CONTRACT UPDATE

After two years of negotiations with IATSE Local 868, its refusal to allow mediation assistance, and a deadlock in progress, Strathmore in August of 2021 "implemented" its final proposal for the venue's 3 full-time and 10 part-time ticket sellers.

In implementing our final proposal, the day-to-day operations of the Ticket Office remain largely the same for our colleagues. Here’s a look at what changed – and what didn’t – for our ticket sellers:

 

Wages

No Change

Benefits

No Change

Holidays

No Change– although Juneteenth is an added holiday, consistent with new federal designation

Bereavement Leave

No Change

Calls, Meals, Breaks, and other Working Conditions

No Change

Minimum Call

No Change

Allowance for School Visitations

No Change

Allowance for Voting

No Change

Vacation

No Change

Professional Development

Improved – added additional in-house training plus 9 extra hours of customer-service training

Ticket Office and Employee Hours

From fixed to flexible schedules, based on demand

Availability of Contactless Kiosks
(for guests who want contactless options, as well as for food and beverage ordering)

Up to two units allowed in Music Center – and up to four Strathmore-wide, with additional ticket-seller work in coding and loading machines

 

An important point in our negotiations with Local 868 focused on our needed flexibility to effectively manage our ticket office hours and staffing. As the pandemic effectively shut down Strathmore events and operations for 18 months through 2020 and 2021, Local 868 demanded that Strathmore continue full pay and benefits for the ticket selling staff while all other employees – including other IATSE-represented employees – faced necessary furloughs and pay reductions. Our implemented final proposal maintains ticket sellers' wages and benefits, while providing the needed flexibility based on demands so that Strathmore is not forced to pay ticket selling staff for hours when there is no work and no revenue.

Despite our differences, as always, Strathmore fully respects its employees' right to union representation. We are excited for the return of live music to Strathmore and for this sustainable path forward together for our community and patrons.

 

August 2, 2021

STRATHMORE IMPLEMENTS NEW APPROACHES FOR SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

Venue Maintains Ticket-Sellers’ Wage Rates and Benefits

With Option to Flex Ticket-Office Hours to Meet Demand

Limited Number of Electronic Customer-Service Kiosks to be Added for Guests’ Contactless Options

After almost two years and a recent lack of progress in union negotiations with IATSE Local 868, Strathmore is implementing contract provisions for its three full-time and approximately 10 part-time ticket sellers that will maintain existing wage rates and benefits but allows the venue to flex ticket-office hours and schedules as events require.

Common Sense Flexibility

Strathmore once hosted about 400 events annually before the pandemic suddenly and completely shut down operations 18 months ago. The cancelations affected concerts, special events and education opportunities across Strathmore’s three venues. While all other Strathmore employees experienced wage reductions because of the abrupt cancelations and many employees were laid off or furloughed, ticket sellers received full wages despite the complete closures.

We must embrace new approaches that reflect today’s realities and ensure a sustainable future,” said Strathmore President and CEO Monica Jeffries Hazangeles. “We need our union colleagues, and we need the flexibility to schedule our staff – up and down – as events and purchasing patterns require. We have asked that Local 868 adopt the same staffing language that is in our stagehands contract. We believe that’s a reasonable request, and we fully expect that our prior office hours and schedules will return as future events return. However, in the event they don’t, or we are faced with closures in the future, we will now have the flexibility to adjust those hours and schedules as needed.”

Customer-Service Kiosks

Strathmore also is pursuing the option of installing no more than four electronic customer-service kiosks across its facilities as an added feature for guests, providing a contactless option for those individuals who still need to limit contact with others and those wanting to continue social-distancing safeguards. The kiosks also will give patrons the option to place food and beverage orders and purchase other merchandise electronically, which is outside of ticket-sellers’ responsibilities.

“We respect our various union relationships, whether with ticket sellers, stagehands, or other trade and professional unions with whom we interact,” Hazangeles said. “We greatly value the commitments and contributions of each Strathmore employee, but reasonable approaches like the flexibility to schedule staff when employees are needed and smartly enhancing in-person customer service with accessible technology are just common sense.”

The venue only now is beginning steps toward a re-opening of its venues throughout this year and into next, although it is still uncertain how many events will return – and at what capacities – particularly given the reescalation of delta-variant infection rates and the return of some pandemic safeguards.

Negotiations between Strathmore and Local 868 began in October of 2019.

 

July 2021

Strathmore continues to negotiate with the Treasurers and Ticket Sellers Union Local 868 to finalize a new agreement.

Recently, IATSE Local 868 reached out to various parties with hyperbole, half-truths, and outright falsehoods, apparently attempting to achieve via external pressure what it has been unable to accomplish at the bargaining table for almost two years: to finalize a reasonable contract for our three full-time and other part-time ticket sellers.

As patrons, you fully understand how devastating the past year has been on our organization and our employees. Only now are we able to slowly rebook shows and reopen our venues, and we have been clear in our need to ensure our agreements provide the necessary flexibility and reasonable solutions for the long-term success of our organization and those who count on us.

Of all the misstatements contained in IATSE’s latest communications, we want to highlight three falsehoods that the union continues to repeat and to explain to you why they are false:

Strathmore’s “management team reneged on an agreement reached last year.”

False. We never reached a final agreement.  Our negotiations with IATSE began in 2019, and no one could imagine what 2020 would bring as the pandemic suddenly darkened our stages, locked our doors, and completely upended our plans. Obviously, we don’t negotiate in a vacuum; these realities have been reflected throughout our ongoing negotiations towards an acceptable final agreement. The union asked the National Labor Relations Board to cite Strathmore for bad-faith bargaining and twice – on decision and on appeal – the NLRB denied the union’s claims. The agency ruled that Strathmore “provided reasonable and logical explanations for its change in bargaining positions,” adding that “the ever-changing nature of the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2020 was such that economic uncertainty was, and continues to be, the norm on a daily basis.”

Strathmore wants “to eliminate all full-time positions for ticket sellers and replace these individuals with machines.”

False. We have full-time ticket sellers now, and we plan to have full-time ticket sellers after we reach a contract. We clearly and consistently have explained this to the union.

We are thrilled that our ticket sellers are routinely asked about best views, acoustics, and discounts – and we have every intention of continuing to make them available to assist patrons on these inquiries. And we absolutely agree with the union that our “patrons deserve and expect a high level of customer service.” Our interest in supplementing our existing customer-service offerings with new technology is to provide new options for patrons who may prefer contactless ticketing, as well as offer a platform for expanded customer conveniences like food and beverage ordering – which are beyond a ticket seller’s duties.

Strathmore is pursuing “union-busting tactics.”

False. We respect our various union relationships, whether with Local 868, Local 22, or other trade and professional unions with whom we interact. We fully value the commitments and contributions of each Strathmore employee, but common-sense approaches like the flexibility to schedule staff when employees are needed (that is, when there is actually work to be done) and smartly enhancing in-person customer service with accessible technology is just that – common sense, not “union busting.”

We continue to approach negotiations with Local 868 in the hopes of reaching an agreement for our ticket sellers. We value each of our employees; we respect the union process, and we are working to build a stronger Strathmore – no matter the challenges we face.

 

May 2021

Strathmore continues to negotiate with the Treasurers and Ticket Sellers Union Local 868 to finalize a new agreement for our approximately 24 full- and part-time ticket sellers. Throughout this process, the pandemic has forced us to rethink what ticket-buying will look like in the future.

For example, 85 percent of our tickets are now self-purchased by customers on the Internet and we – like other businesses – have adopted contactless approaches to address both public safety and public concern. This obviously impacts staffing needs going forward, and we have discussed a range of solutions with our current ticket sellers.

We greatly value our colleagues and respect the union process, and we look forward to finalizing an agreement for our ticket sellers while providing a sustainable foundation for Strathmore’s future.

 Additional Updates and Resources

488 Million Seats

Estimated Loss in Attendance Among Non-Profit Arts Organizations in the United States during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Americans for the Arts, 2021

Strathmore Concert Hall Alankarchmer2

488 Million Seats

Estimated Loss in Attendance Among Non-Profit Arts Organizations in the United States during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Americans for the Arts, 2021

It quickly became the year of just nothing.

Owner of now closed entertainment venue "As Music Venues Shutter, Former Owners Describe Devastating Toll" - Rolling Stone, October 2020

Featured Question

“How long have Strathmore and Local 868 been negotiating this contract?”

Negotiations to renew the contract began with Local 868 in October, 2019, and continued virtually through the pandemic. So far, we have completed many bargaining sessions with the union in efforts to reach a new contract.

Additional Questions and Answers

Learn More

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Details & Resources

Learn about the steady, thoughtful changes Strathmore is proposing for a sustainable future.

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