Today, as we plan for our return to the concert hall, we are working with our venues, government and community to understand what that will look like. The health of our audiences, musicians and staff remains a priority, so we will follow the official government advice and perform for you when it is safe to do so.
Season 2021 will be different to years gone by. It is an opportunity for us to adapt and innovate in the post-COVID world. We are excited to share it with you, and look forward to revealing details soon.
In the meantime, it’s important that our MSO family is updated on the work being done here now.
It has been four months since our last Hamer Hall performance and all performances have been cancelled until 2 October. A number of other performances, including the much-anticipated Mahler 8, have been postponed. Ticket holders have been notified by email, and a full list of affected concerts can be found here.
Remarkably, the MSO continues to reach new audiences as we fight to keep the music going. On 16 March, our Orchestra presented Scheherazade for free to an empty concert hall but connected with more than 100,000 people in 20 countries across the world. To date, the concerts, classes, conversations and other content streamed on our YouTube channel have reached more than 730,000 people from six continents.
Since the ban on public events, we have continued to produce new online content for audiences of all ages. Our Jams for Juniors and Ears Wide Open series have moved online and are now designed for an at-home audience, our MSO Marathon was viewed by more than 50,000 people, and our collaboration with the AFL shone a spotlight on the similarities between a symphony orchestra and professional sporting organisations.
To those of you who have spent some time with us over these past months, thank you for helping us to #KeepTheMusicGoing.
As you know, the pandemic has forced us to face difficult decisions; none more so than the MSO Board’s decision to temporarily stand down our musicians and 13 management staff in April. The financial reality we continue to face to ensure we survive this period has been hard for many to comprehend. But it’s vital that our friends and supporters understand the facts of our situation, and how important it is to us all that the MSO is in a position to return to performing as soon as possible. We are all pleased to have seen our musicians return to work from late-May.
Life will not snap back to normal for our industry as restrictions ease. As we reacclimatise ourselves to our homes, we expect a slow return of public gatherings to follow here in Melbourne. In recognition of this, the MSO Board has pledged $1,000,000 in additional support for musicians and staff during the recovery period.
This is an important investment in our people, which will come at a financial cost to the organisation. In addition to this pledge, the Board has approved other measures to support those musicians and staff experiencing personal hardship. These measures will remain in place until all are back together performing in the hall and earning their full salary.
In our long and proud history, we have faced adversity and have survived. Our focus today, and in the months ahead, is on protecting the viability of our long-term future.
Life is different now, but one thing remains the same – our love of beautiful music.