Symphony-goers impressed with the quality of a performance often shout "bravo," but they rarely throw money. Michele and Pat Atkins are not your typical symphony patrons.
The Point Breeze couple wanted to acknowledge the sacrifice that symphony musicians made under their previous contract, when they took a 9.7 percent pay cut and donated $200,000 to the PSO's annual fund. The Atkinses responded with a $1.2 million donation to the symphony that was announced on Monday.
The gift was unusual because the donors specified that it must be used to fund a portion of the musicians' salaries. The couple estimated their gift is equivalent to one year of what the members of Local 60-471 of the American Federation of Musicians gave up to help the orchestra with its financial struggles.
Under the symphony's new contract, musicians will receive a 4 percent wage increase in the 2013-14 season and a 3 percent increase in 2015-16. Wages will be frozen in the middle year of the three-year agreement. James A. Wilkinson, president and CEO of the PSO, said the gift was the basis for the orchestra being able to agree to wage increases at this time.
The symphony and the larger Pittsburgh arts community are enriched by such generosity. Bravo.