Minneapolis, MN – The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26 is urging members of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) to vote against the nomination of USBank CEO Richard Davis to the Board of Trustees. On Tuesday Javier Morillo, President of Local 26, sent a letter to members urging them to contact Richard Davis and ask him to withdraw his name from consideration for the board.
Local 26 represents the security officers who protect art at the MIA, many of whom are themselves accomplished artists. As members of the arts community, they plan to greet those attending Thursday evening’s MIA annual membership meeting, when voting – which has been open online since July 1 – will be closed for Board of Trustee members. Local 26 will be joined in their protest of Davis by fans of the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as members of Young Musicians of Minnesota, who will be playing music outside the meeting before it starts. The group formed this year “to help preserve the Minnesota Orchestra’s 110-year legacy of fostering music students.”
Davis is the immediate past chair of the Minnesota Orchestra’s board and is in charge of the contract negotiations. Shawn Hennessey is a security officer at MIA and a founding member of Rogue Citizen Art Cooperative. He says it’s clear from the ensuing lockout of the orchestra’s musicians and the cancelation of the 2012-2013 season that Davis is not the type of leadership members of the MIA should be looking for.
“Minneapolis has always been a place where people of all backgrounds have been able to enjoy the incredible art that our community has to offer,” said Hennessey. “People across the country recognize our arts community for its incredible contributions, including everything from music to art to performance. We can’t continue to watch the art community be damaged by corporate interests that have no respect for the institution. We must demand better if we will foster great art today and continue to foster great art into the future.
“Just as my daily job as a security officer is to protect art, I see it as my role as a member of the arts community to protect it from people like Davis,” continued Hennessey.
In the letter Morillo writes:
“Given Richard Davis’s track record at the Orchestra, we are very concerned about the negative influence he may exert on the MIA board. The Orchestra’s recent actions have shown a callous disregard for its employees, the community, and the quality of the institution itself.
“Richard Davis has inflicted catastrophic damage on the orchestra and left fans disheartened and demoralized. Don’t let this happen to the MIA.”
The Minnesota Orchestra has been at a standstill in negotiations for months, with the future of the orchestra very much in limbo. The New York Times has reported that the acclaimed music director has threatened to resign if the lockout is not resolved soon.
The letter urges Richard Davis to withdraw his name from consideration. It also urges members to vote against the slate of nominations should Davis not withdraw. As Morillo notes in the letter, members can’t vote against individual nominees, but instead must vote against the entire slate of nominees.