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Statement from Bill Riley, president of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Board

September 3, 2020

We regret the union has turned down our most recent offer to keep the musicians on payroll and continue to bring music to Knoxville.

We have made several offers and concessions that would have kept the orchestra afloat during this pandemic without damaging the KSO’s long-term viability. We are saddened by the decision of the union.

Facing unprecedented financial challenges, we offered the union 75 percent of the full salaries musicians received last year, for the duration of a modified 35-week season. Normal healthcare and pension benefits were included. This compromise was offered several weeks prior to the announcement of furloughs and rejected.

The most recent offer also included increased days of paid personal leave, unlimited unpaid leave and leave of absences granted outside the normal contract guidelines. This offer was rejected.

Mr. Chen stated that musicians are asked to be on call 14 hours per day/6 days per week. This is sickeningly inaccurate. Musicians can be asked to work up to 5 hours per day, and must be given notice of the requested work 17 days in advance.

The characterization of the endowment is inaccurate. As we clarified previously, those funds are preserved and managed by a separately incorporated organization to ensure the long-term survival of the KSO.