The Youth Organisation of the Independence Party of Iceland (SUS) applauds the possibility that the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra may go on strike, as they want all government funding for the orchestra cut.
Musicians for the orchestra have been without a contract for over two years. The 85 musicians – most of whom have five-years degrees and years of experience – make an average of 348,000 ISK per month, but this includes evenings, weekends, travel expenses and rehearsals, among other things. This wage average is also pulled upwards by a few of the higher-paid musicians; newly beginning musicians make 219,000 ISK.
These wages have not increased for over three years, and the orchestra wants a cost of living raise of about 30%, which the government has flatly denied giving them. A strike is therefore a real possibility.
SUS issued a statement saying they welcome the strike, as they want all government funding for the orchestra cut.
The young conservatives contend that the orchestra should be able to support itself on ticket sales alone. Furthermore, cutting their funding would, they contend, free up some 800 million ISK which could go to the National Hospital, thereby avoiding cuts there.
The proposal is hardly a surprising one from the party. In 2010, conservative MP Ásbjörn Óttarsson railed against funding for any of the arts, saying that artists should get “real jobs”. Others were quick to point out that supporting the arts is actually good for the economy. A study conducted in the US in 2005, for example, showed that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year, in the form of full-time jobs, household income, and tax revenues generated at a local, state and national level.