Get Involved

Take action!  Your calls, emails and letters to elected officials will make a difference…they will take notice if even a few people take the time to contact them.  Just a brief, heartfelt message in your own voice will suffice.  Information about how to reach them can be found below.  

Here is some language that you might want to borrow from:

I am a [ticket buyer, donor, volunteer, &/or supporter] of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and I am distressed by orchestra management’s apparent lack of respectful and constructive negotiation with the musicians.  I do not want to see this priceless and unique community treasure, so many years in the making, destroyed.   I do not want to see these brilliant musicians move away or be forced to find other work.  I do not want the “ripple effects” of empty concert halls harm local business owners and workers in service and support industries.   Please use your influence to put pressure on SPCO Management to end the lockout and return to good-faith negotiations with the musicians.

To contact your State Senator and Representative:

 To contact Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman: 

 To contact Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak (he’s on the SPCO Board):

 To contact Governor Mark Dayton:

  • 651-201-3400 (you can leave a message)
  • Post a comment or message to the Governor online:
  • Send a letter to Office of the Governor, 130 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155

We would love to hear from you as well!  Feel free to leave your comments below or in the “Leave a Reply” section at the bottom of any of our articles.

4 Responses to “Get Involved”

  1. Mike Rabe December 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    I’d be happy to participate in a “Minnesota Nice” visit to the Hamm Building. If a suitablly large group of people were able to enter the SPCO lobby, or even the Hamm Bulding Lobby, we could have suitably polite signs such as:
    We are the audience, let us hear the music.
    The audiende is locked-out too.
    Starving Artists should not apply to players in a world-class orchestra.
    We cold also sing carols and hanukkah songs!

    Anyone think this would be a good idea?


  2. Mary Lois Hall December 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    The REAL reason the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra is locked out and on the verge of collapse: Dobson West heads Management and the Board of Directors

    West gained the titles of President and Managing Director, as well as Chairman of the Board of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO), after the bylaws of the Board (under the direction of West) were amended to make this possible. After the departure of Sarah Lutman (the most recent and last professional manager of the SPCO) in February of this year, West assumed what is now complete control of the SPCO by becoming its Managing Director and President, while retaining his position as Board Chair. The result of his uneducated efforts: the orchestra is locked out and on the verge of collapse. West refuses to negotiate further over the totally inadequate contract he and his Executive Committee are pushing, even at the cost of demolishing the orchestra…it is management’s way or the highway. You cannot put a price on what is lost to our generation and the next when a non-profit public asset like the SPCO is annihilated through mismanagement. All too often, the public becomes aware of the destruction of a non-profit after the fact–after a true public treasure such as the SPCO has been mismanaged into the ground, is perhaps with us in name only, and is functionally lost to us forever. West should immediately end the lockout of the musicians while negotiations proceed in good faith. The SPCO Board of Directors should replace West with professional and effective management leadership that understands how collaboration inspires growth. And finally, top management and the Board of Directors need to understand that the revenue problem must be solved. You cannot cut your way to greatness.

    There is a risk of perceived conflict of interest within the organization, now that West wears all these hats. The President and Managing Director are paid positions, hired by the Board. West now holds both positions. But the Board Chair is also West. This is not to suggest that any laws have been broken, but in the areas of finance and influence, how does the old saying go…absolute power corrupts absolutely? As he looks in the mirror, West must frequently ask himself, “Will I advise myself today as Manager to Board Chair, or as Board Chair to Manager?” The fact that West now firmly holds the reins of Management and the Board of Directors effectively merges the two entities. It has become impossible for the SPCO Board of Directors to provide objective and realistic assessment of the SPCO Management Leadership, so they are hamstrung and remiss in their oversight duties. It is tragic that the SPCO Management is not steered by a professional trained in orchestra management and fundraising, one who could provide expert advice to the Board of Directors. Wearing all these hats, it must also be a challenge for West to logically prioritize his activities. As SPCO President, West sits on the Leadership Team of the Arts Partnership Campaign to refurbish the Ordway Center. Their plans were delayed for a year in April, 2012, because only $55 million out of a $75 million goal had been raised by that time. The Leadership Team opted to take a year to raise the remainder. West must explain to the public why he can find the time to raise tens of millions of dollars for bricks and mortar, but finds it overwhelming to raise a couple of million dollars to ensure our chamber orchestra remains a world-class entity.

    Now is the time for current and former SPCO Board Members to speak out loudly and publicly in defiance of West and the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors — before it is too late. To neglect this duty will allow West and his ilk to continue their misguided reign over the organization, unchecked. Their apparent goal seems to be to destroy our beloved SPCO–the jewel in the crown of St. Paul’s musical and cultural offerings–and replace it with an ill-conceived pick-up orchestra. This cannot be allowed to happen.

  3. Sandi Sherman December 17, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    I would especially love to do a direct action where hundreds if not more of your supporters can come out and visibly show their support. Attending the Messiah concert is certainly one way to do that, but how about a candlelight vigil, a mobilization at the next Board meeting, or something like that. As a locked out subscriber, I would like to do more.


  1. The Special Case of the SPCO | Song of the Lark - February 21, 2013

    [...] even if all his decisions and directives were well-intended. (See Mary Lois Hall’s letter, under 3 Responses to Get Involved.) The apparent chief desire of management is to transform the mission of the SPCO organization [...]

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