A side exit from the strike

This weekend the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra will pull off what many other arts organizations have been unable to do during the last several weeks: it will play the Orpheum Theatre, one of the civic-run venues that has remained dark throughout the civic workers strike that began two months ago. While other arts organizations have been forced by the dispute to scramble for alternative venues for high-profile shows (such as the relocated headlining acts in August’s Festival Vancouver, as well as farewell concerts by star soprano Kiri Te Kanawa earlier this month, which the Vancouver Recital Society managed to move at the last moment from the Orpheum to the Chan Centre), the VSO will hold its season-opening concerts, featuring acclaimed violinist Sarah Chang, as originally planned—at the Orpheum on Saturday (September 29) and Monday (October 1).

How? Apparently by applying to the Labour Relations Board, which issued an order on September 26 allowing “picketing relief” at the Orpheum’s stage door for the two shows. In other words, CUPE Local 15 can—and likely will—picket anywhere else at the venue, including audience entrances, but will be restricted from picketing the entrance used by the orchestra’s unionized musicians and the IATSE technicians. The order stands only for these two nights, so no one is saying at this point whether the arrangement can be made permanent for the duration of the strike. Nevertheless, this weekend’s concerts count as something of a coup for the VSO.




Sep 30, 2007 at 2:15pm

Call it a coup if you like, but what it really is, is a slap in the face to the unionized workers who normally staff that venue and who had their jobs performed by scabs provided by the VSO association.

It's also worth noting that, unlike all of the performers whose shows were moved to other venues over the summer, the VSO is one of the resident companies of the civic theatres.... so naturally the City is going to do whatever it can to keep them happy.

Layla C