RSO Management proposes a wage that drops full-time musicians far below the median household income in Richmond.
No one enters a life in the arts expecting to become wealthy. It's a life of dedication to a passion, and it's a life that requires a fair amount of financial creativity and flexibility. However, when an organization requires a full-time commitment from it's employees (RSO musicians have 1 dedicated day off per week and are available to work from 9AM to 11PM) and is unwilling to pay wages that make life possible, there is going to be conflict. The latest proposal we have received proposes a base salary of $28,886, with dramatic cuts in benefits and insurance. Considering that there are no opportunities for advancement, no merit pay increases, and no seniority pay, this is all musicians can expect...even after many years of service.
The median household income in Virginia is around $61,000, and the median household income in the City of Richmond is around $38,000.
Through a series of hard-fought contract negotiations, we have managed to keep up with the cost of living throughout the years. This cut is substantial, and takes us 10 years back in time.
Proposed weekly salary would qualify some musicians for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - essentially, food stamps.