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Best Week, Worst Week: Symphony fans get the BSO back; Terra’s Kitchen files for bankruptcy

best-worst-092819Symphony fans found out this week that music will once again come from the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, courtesy of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, while a Baltimore-based meal delivery service filed for bankruptcy.

Government affairs writer Bryan P. Sears reported Monday that BSO management and musicians reached a one-year agreement on a new contract, ending months of contentious negotiations that included a lockout, strike and a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board.

Though the deal is only for a year, both sides will continue to sort out the financial future of the 103-year old cultural institution. Orchestra officials said the short-term agreement will allow management and musicians to continue meeting to work on a more sustainable plan for the BSO, which finds itself in a situation similar to many major metropolitan symphonies that are battling declining attendance, changes in musical tastes and demographics.

BSO officials say that, despite improved financial health in the past few years, losses of more than $16 million over the past decade led to the recent standoff.  Both sides have expressed a desire to forge a multi-year agreement. BSO officials hope a new committee that includes musicians and management will develop an achievable plan for a long-term deal;  a shared governance structure that gives musicians a voice in some management decisions had been a key demand from musicians.

The agreement will have little effect on a decision to withhold millions from the orchestra that the legislature fenced off in the current state budget, with Gov. Larry Hogan refusing to release those fund. The governor said he would not do so until the orchestra gets its financial house in order.

Both sides are expected to return to the table with a legislative work group chaired by former Sen. Ed Kasemeyer. The panel canceled meetings in recent weeks after an awkward and contentious inaugural session.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore-based meal delivery service Terra’s Kitchen has filed for bankruptcy and appears to have shut down.

Business writer Tim Curtis reported Wednesday that, according to federal court filings, the company’s revenues had dwindled over the last couple of years and investment had dried up. The company had just $15,000 in assets against $18.7 million in unsecured claims.

The service named former Medifast CEO Michael McDevitt as its chief executive and in 2016 entered the highly competitive meal-delivery space against rivals such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Based in Canton, Terra’s Kitchen hoped to attract health-conscious customers with its pre-packaged healthy meals.

The company found initial success but soon saw diminishing returns. It had gross revenues of $14.9 million in 2017, $6.4 million in 2019 and $1.5 million through its bankruptcy filing this year.

The startup’s social media has been inactive since April. Its website says it stopped operations in August but promised to return at a later date.