Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SF Symphony Salaries & Cayman Islands Bank Account

(Musicians picketing last week at Van Ness Avenue and Grove Street. Credit: Deborah Svaboda, KQED.)

The boyfriend and I were set to attend Sunday's Mahler concert at Davies Symphony Hall, but because of the musicians going out on strike the performance was cancelled. We are huge fans of the San Francisco Symphony and would like to see management and the union quickly reach an agreement settling the disputes.

Until then, a lot of parties are looking at the fiscal data contained in the company's IRS 990 filing for 2011 and opining about demands for better pay and benefits for musicians versus offers from management.

The union has a tough row to hoe, in that its members on average earn more than $145,000 with robust benefits and lots of ordinary folks can only dream about such annual pay and benefits. Performers want to keep pace with colleagues in other American orchestras. Hundreds of comments at the SF Chronicle since the strike began have been overwhelmingly negative toward the musicians.

Check out the Musicians of the San Francisco Symphony web site here.

Management has come off more sympathetically in much of the coverage, but they have also been criticized for the compensation given to top executives by union members and supporters. There is also a healthy reserve of funds in company coffers. The company does not post its IRS 990 and I suggest that management quickly post their three most recent filings on their site.

Since I have not seen any reporting about all of the salaries in a single post or story, including that of the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, top management personnel and the musicians, and pertinent fiscal details from the latest IRS 990, I've excerpted that info.

Total assets at the end of FY 2011 were listed at $262,684,515, a jump from $229,709,012. Revenue went from $59.4 million to $86.4 million.

There is an off-shore account maintained in the Cayman Islands, something the Southern Poverty Law Center also has (along with a similarly healthy amount in assets), and may not be unusual for a nonprofit with such robust assets. Still, it needs to be known that the account exists for the symphony.

Government grants, which are not specified as whether they're from the city, state or federal government, total $818,000

Did you know this? The music conductor and face of the symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas, is not listed as an employee in the tax filing. His corporation MTT Inc is listed as an independent contractor and the compensation is $2,412,662.

Here are the compensation figures for others, as listed on the filing:

Robert Assink, executive director

Mark Koenig, chief financial officer

John Kieser, general manager

Mara Finerty, human resources director

Gregg Gleasner, artistic planning director

Nan Keeton, external affairs director

Robert Lasher, development director

Alexander Barantschik, concertmaster and violinist

Nadya Tichman, associated concertmaster and violinist

Mark Inouye, principal trumpet

William Bennett (RIP), principal oboe

Robert Ward, principle horn

The Foundation Center site provides IRS 990s for the symphony from 2002 to 2011. Click here to read them all, as the strike drags on, and registration is not required.

(Tip o' the hat to Michael Strickland and his SF Civic Center blog for his reporting on the labor and management problems, and getting the ball rolling on salary info.)


cedichou said...

When I see the salaries of the principals, I understand better the "average" statement. Management states a lot, they make "on average" $165k. But with these principals making twice that average, it's easy to see that the rank and file is not too far from the $140k base.

Yes, many people would be happy to make $140k. But not many people are in the top 1% of their profession, as the SFS musicians are. I'm annoyed by the negative stories. I think what does not come across is that the musicians are pissed that management got healthy pay raise, when they are the one generated the wealth. No music, not money. Is what Brent Assink does more valuable than the orchestra? The reward structure seems to indicate so.

Rusty Mills said...

I am a regular SF Symphony attendee. And I'm disgusted by the boundless greed of the musicians and the symphony management. While I think that good musicians deserve to be paid well, these musicians' salaries are absurd. And the salaries of the management are even more absurd.

My partner and I are considering dropping our subscription to the SF Symphony next year. Why support these overpaid money-grubbers when one can hear the same music on CDs without the scheduling problems, coughing noises, and other inconveniences of live performances?