We know from experience that a strike that essentially shuts down an organization can be among the most significant crisis anyone could ever face. We have been on those PR front lines before, on behalf of a client.
But right now in Detroit, one organization is in that situation and the public barely seems to notice. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s musicians went on strike nearly two months ago. The strike has attracted local and some national news attention as the story centers, of course, around money. The organization, like many arts groups nationwide and many nonprofits in Detroit, faces a revenue shortfall. The musicians aren’t interested in drastic pay cuts. The strike has put the entire Symphony performing season, and maybe its future altogether, in peril.
But the strike has not permeated the community dialogue. Unlike many labor disputes over the years, this one seems not to have risen to the surface as a frequent topic of conversation, outside of classical music fans. It seems as if the public, at large, just doesn’t care what happens. If that is, indeed, the case, it’s harmful to both sides.
If the community realizes that it can live without the Symphony during this time, then there won’t be a Symphony and the musicians won’t have jobs to return to at any pay scale. That fact is what ended the National Hockey League’s labor dispute a few years ago. Both sides began to realize that even sports fans were getting used to live without the NHL. So, they figured out a way to start playing again (with the players, primarily, capitulating).
Opportunity can often result from crisis. But, in this case, the public doesn’t seem to be treating it as a crisis. And that, for all involved, could be a missed opportunity.