There was once a group of skilled musicians, praised and esteemed for the quality of their musicianship, their versatility, and the beauty of their sound. These musicians were very busy: winning Grammys, giving concerts, visiting schools, mentoring the next generation of musicians, practicing, rehearsing -- committed to doing their jobs as well as could be done, working tirelessly to improve what was already a superior ensemble. It was universally agreed that this group of musicians was one of the finest in the land.
Unbeknownst to the musicians, their overlords were busy at the same time, running up a stupefying deficit ... adding staff -- 15 people in management who made more money than the musicians did -- building costly arenas, and generally doing nothing but spending money faster than the musicians could bring it in. That is, until the newly-commissioned Commissioner, skilled in exchequer, came into the land and was truly appalled by the sight of such a bloated, top-heavy beast.
The Commissioner vowed to fix this ... and after a few minutes' thought, came up with the winning idea of having the musicians -- the primary revenue stream -- bear the brunt of the debt. By reducing their numbers, slashing their salaries, playing weeks, and benefits the problem would be solved! The overlords would be allowed to stay nice and fat with barely a dent in their purse or loss of perks.
The plan would do nothing, of course, to add luster to the artistic future of the musicians, but the debt would be reduced, and thus, no argument against it was brooked. The musicians said bravely that they would not accept this solution. So, with the help of her puppet, the Chief High Overlord, the Commissioner laid siege to the musicians. Horrified, the musicians looked around them. "Who speaks for us?" they asked. "Who speaks for the music?" But there was no answer.
The Commissioner and the Chief High Overlord took no pity. They locked the musicians out of their Hall, cut off their health benefits, hijacked their educational programs ... until the musicians, who had been unprepared for the viciousness of the attack, and possessed no weapons or strategy, realized they were facing damage to their artistic reputation and loss of livelihood, and bent to the will of the overlords.
There was much celebrating in the imperial halls of the overlords, who were now able to give up the onerous tasks of fundraising, seeking donor patronage, and the tightening of their own belts. 14 weeks of paid vacation! A mere 6% salary reduction! No staff lost! Let the Casino Party begin!
The musicians, suddenly finding themselves saddled with a massive debt not of their own making, were troubled, but they did not despair. They took up their instruments with the same accustomed resolve. The purity of their art would not be stained by the machinations of the foolish ones, who saw no value in the musicians' music, other than the gold it brought them. The musicians vowed that no matter what these overlords in their ignorance and lust for power had decreed, no matter what humiliations they inflicted, the music would go on.
And so it did.
We need to read this again and again. http://www.atlsymphonymusicians.com/1/post/2012/09/atlanta-symphony-musicians-accept-new-agreement-including-52-million-in-concessions.html