CoV policy: Artists sue festival – salzburg.ORF.at
It’s about allegations in connection with CoV lockdowns, violation of the Theater Labor Act, unfair remuneration of choir singers and payment obligations in the event of postponements and cancellations in 2020.
The resignation of the Salzburg Festival director and the commercial director is also required.
“It was not force majeure”
Since June 2020 there have been fundamental opening steps in Austria, which also made it possible to hold the Salzburg Festival in a reduced form in August 2020. Some operas, plays and concerts have been canceled completely, while others have been postponed. The Board of Trustees of the Salzburg Festival was aware that force majeure was not legally valid under these circumstances, emphasized Kammersänger Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke.
“67 opera soloists not paid”
In the original contracts, there was also no possibility of postponements without compensation, “nevertheless, 67 opera soloists who were not required with legally valid contracts were not paid out, although there was an obligation to pay,” it said. The same was done with some of the dedicated choir members, around 120 people affected. “The regular members of the concert association received about twice as much remuneration as the additional members, which is a blatant violation of the principle of equality,” said Ablinger-Sperrhacke.
Demand for additional payments for 2020
The artists whose production was postponed were forced to sign termination contracts, even without compensation. “We are demanding additional payments for 2020,” said the Kammersänger.
At the press event, jointly organized by the lawyers’ petition for freelancers, the Florestan initiative and Aufaufkeit für die Kunst, a regulation like that in France for people with contracts was demanded for the second and third lockdown: “So 50 percent compensation, that means tax-free “, says Ablinger-Sperrhacke. “And alternatively for tax residents 80 percent sales after the previous year.”
As far as the Salzburg Festival is concerned, it is assumed that a total of ten million euros will have to be paid in arrears. In order to prevent future breaches of the law, the creation of a chamber of artists to represent the interests of freelancers is necessary.
Festival rejects allegations
“The Salzburg Festival refuses to answer the allegations made,” said the board of directors in a written statement on Friday. “The fact is rubbish: The Salzburg Festival was the only major festival in the world to take place in the summer of 2020, giving hundreds of artists employment. The Festival Board of Directors has also managed to catch up on almost all of the productions originally planned for 2020 in 2021 and 2022. For this reason, agreements on changes were made in consultation with the soloists, choirs and orchestras.”
After the 2020 season, an agreement was reached with the artist agencies, orchestras and choirs on their own coronavirus regulations, with which the respective advance payments in the event of any future cancellations were regulated: “The allegations are therefore completely unfounded.”
After the allegations became known in September, the Salzburg Festival had already emphasized that they would reject all allegations. For the two productions “Intolleranza” and “Boris Godunow”, which were originally scheduled for 2020, the Konzertvereinigung had already organized rehearsals in Vienna in the spring: “The Board of Directors of the Salzburg Festival and the Konzertvereinigung agreed on a down payment for this, which was paid out immediately.”