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A Letter From the RPO Board Chair to the RPO

February 13, 2013

This letter, by the RPO Chair of the Board of Directors, was sent from administration of the RPO.

We certainly should be proud of the RPO, but not of its management! “Moving on,” in the minds of management, means we should stop trying to correct grave management errors and trying to create positive change.

Dear RPO Family –

It has been an interesting weekend for me. I succumbed to temptation and posted on the rpocommunity’s Facebook page last Thursday evening; a civil post, I thought but it only generated harsh comments and succeeded in making me angry. Another civil post in return, more harsh comments. Hmmm…is this how I want to spend my time?

Then on Friday, I heard rave reviews of Thursday’s concert and that whetted my appetite for our Saturday tickets. I met Ward Stareon Friday evening. On Saturday morning, I saw an editorial letter in the paper saying it is time to move on. I was exhilarated by the concert Saturday night. And, while I don’t agree with everything in the D&C’s Sunday editorial, they too, urged us to move on.

I realized over the weekend, that I am tired of all the “posting wars.” People, including me, have been spending countless hours monitoring and/or posting on Facebook, news sites, opinion blogs, you name it. And most of it generates negative energy and hurt; it is also becomes the public’s view of the RPO!

Regardless of how you view the board’s decision to terminate Mr. Remmereit, it is time for all of us to move on and pull together for our future. To do otherwise, threatens our organization and working relationships; it’s a lose-lose proposition. We can use the energy it takes to argue publicly in a much more productive and positive way. We have a lot to be proud of at the RPO!

We had an uplifting weekend of concerts; enthusiastic patrons and musicians. We beat our single ticket goal of $25,000 by over 30%. We knocked the ball out of the park last week! This week, the orchestra performs four intermediate education concerts and finishes with the Music of James Bond. Let’s remember our mission; to provide exhilarating, inspiring experiences to the community.

I realized the only way to stop the “posting wars” is to stop posting myself. From now on, I am going to change my focus. No more monitoring websites for the latest snarky post; no more negative posts. I am going to spend my time helping the RPO move forward and heal from a difficult few months for everyone. I ask you to join me in this quest. We have a lot of exhilarating and inspiring music left to make!

Thank you for all you do for the RPO!

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  1. Brian Stotz, RPO Percussionist since 1977 permalink

    Poor Betsy….She and the board fire Arild for no good reason and alienate a large segment of the community who support him and the orchestra. She implies that wealthy donors who withdraw their support, because of this decision, are not needed. She and management praise the orchestra and our achievements and reward us with another pay cut and a summer season cut by 50%. She and management are responsible for a deficit of nearly $800,000.
    With a record such as this I can’t blame her for wanting to move on, but on to what?

    • Amanda Miller permalink

      I have a friend who works in the RPO office, and from him I know that management has taken cuts too. They have taken benefit cuts, unpaid time off where they are not allowed to work (basically unemployment time), and there is no pension contribution at this time. Charles Owens and all upper management will take these cuts along with the rest of the RPO staff. I can’t speak for the wealthy board and their untimely decision to fire Arild Remmereit, but cuts are being taken all around.

      • Brian Stotz, RPO Percussionist since 1977 permalink

        We are aware of these cuts. We are also aware that some staff members (not many) are paid much more than we musicians. But as we have seen from the example of the federal government, we cannot continue to cut our way to a balanced budget. There must be some form of long-range planning and growth. The continued band aid approach doesn’t work. And because of this, many orchestra members have 2nd jobs. Lastly, with the timing of Arild’s dismissal, it only makes matters exponentially worse.

    • Amanda Miller permalink

      I guess I can’t reply to your second comment for some reason. From what I know, there are staff members who have second jobs as well. I don’t know what the base pay is for orchestra members, but I have been told that my friend and many of his coworkers make less (we’re talking less than $40,000/year in many many cases). I guess what I’m trying to say is, while the CEO and some upper level staff members may make more than the musicians, the reality is that the lower level staff are making less. Sometimes a lot less. And yet they come to work every day to support the music that is being made. I’ve read that some staff members have left. But others have stayed and new ones have come and work for poor pay for the sake of music.

      All I’m saying is that it’s not fair to paint the picture that the cuts are not shared among musicians and staff. I have seen a lot of that floating around, and that’s why I felt compelled to speak up. The CEO may make a CEO’s pay (I think you can look up that information online somewhere–it will show you how much the top paid people make at certain organisations) and the Board may be to blame for a poor strategy to restore these cuts, but the majority of staff are taking crippling cuts right along with the musicians,

  2. george_segel permalink

    Suggest to “Betsy” and Mr. Owens that they resign, and then we can “move on”.

    George Segel

  3. ted cichanowicz permalink

    who exactly was responsible for the content of this past weekend’s ‘hit out of the park’ concert….I wonder. How can any of us have any sympathy for Board leadership, that created this whole public relations mess, took zero responsibility for any of it and now ask us to continue to support them? Moving on means a change of the guard. then Betsy and Charile can simply relax, go to the concerts and leave the driving to someone else. I’m sure the community’s esteem of those two would go up significantly if they bowed out gracefully.
    It is the only right thing to do. So many have suggested it. Its not a minority. There is no ‘large majority’ of musicians who seem to be on board with this. I’m sure though they want this garbage to end as much as the rest of us. But scraping the sins of the Board under the rug isn’t how to do it.

    It is only their stubbornness right now that is keeping this going. Whether one agrees that firing Remmereit was a mistake or not, I believe MOST feel the manner and timing of these actions have been TOTALLY unacceptable and unprofessional.

    A successful orchestra is an equation…with the players on one side and the audience and patrons on the other. Both need to be equally satisfied in order for it to work.

    Part, perhaps a large part of the large audiences this weekend was due to the program and its content. For the Board to take even the smallest credit for thinking they had anything positive to add to that is folly. Shame on them for thinking otherwise.

    Its pretty clear what really needs to be done. But will it happen? We’ll see just how much the Board really cares about the RPO’s musicians and its audiences and its financial supporters.

  4. Maureen May permalink

    Betsy and Charlie should “move on”, forget about the e mail posts and resign from their positions with the RPO. They should both resign immediately so that the community and the orchestra can make a fresh start and try to repair the damage caused by Remmebreit’s firing and the manner in which it was done.

    Sent from my iPad

  5. Harold Jewell permalink

    Every minute of bickering and fingerpointing brings the RPO closer to destruction. Wake up, everybody.

  6. ted cichanowicz permalink

    Respectfully disagree. Until everything is fixed, properly, the RPO could be destroyed. The community and the RPO deserve better than this contentious and dysfunctional Board leadership….now curiously trying to do all kinds of damage control as though they are the heros in this affair. Someone wrote this morning that Remmereits career is probably over…who would want a ‘litigious’ music conductor. Absolutely astounding how some have so readily drunk the Board’s koolaid and think they had absolutely NOTHING to do with this problem. Au contraire…this music director will have no problem finding work. None at all. Because he is an accomplished and dynamic Maestro. One had better look real closely at how and why ‘litigation’ has taken place.

    Just accepting what the Board has done and threatening many of us, the audience, and patrons with saying well stop bickering or the RPO will die is……well to economize verbiage….just plain wrong. Charlie and Betsy have not earned one single penny of respect in the way they carried out their plan of dismissal of a very talented music director. That they carried it out is less in question now than the manner and timing of what they did….which is what has angered so many.

    they have to go. Then there will be peace in the valley again. And the RPO will indeed survive and thrive.

  7. Ted, Martin, Brian and Maureen,

    Please, please transform your remarks into letters and send to the D&C, City, Messenger Post Media. If you have already been published, remember that they all may print one letter a month from any given writer. Also explore the Speaking Out essay slot at the D&C for pieces longer than 300 words.

    Your comments, your insights need to be read by a larger public. Thank you so much. See you at Arild’s concert on the 24th!

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