$2 Million for 1987-88 Season : Fund-Raising Target Set by Symphony

Times Staff Writer

Herbert J. Solomon, president of the board of the San Diego Symphony Assn., said Wednesday that May 15 has been established as the target date for raising "the necessary funds" to bankroll the 1987-88 symphony season.

Saying that the association's operating debt now exceeds $1.5 million, Solomon said at least $2 million must be raised.

He noted, however, that such a campaign would not be a "communitywide, general-public, crisis-oriented endeavor," but would instead take place chiefly among private benefactors.

He said William McGill, former UC San Diego chancellor appointed by Mayor Maureen O'Connor to help revive symphony operations, would be the primary fund-raiser.

'Quite Hopeful'

"I'm quite hopeful," Solomon said. "We want to be able to take care of our debt and start the next fiscal year for the first time in more than a decade without a deficit. We also want funds for working capital to enable us to make the start comfortably."

Just last week Solomon and the 39 other members of the board offered to tender their resignations if that would ameliorate the crisis. Solomon said the offer still stands.

"It does not mean that we will resign," he said, accenting the word will. "It means that we're willing to resign if it becomes necessary to enable a financial solution to be achieved."

Solomon was asked if $2 million or more could be raised without those resignations.

He paused several seconds before answering, then said, "I think it's possible. Whether or not it will develop, I have no way of knowing. The next step to get things moving again will be the raising of the necessary funds, to enable us to restore operations. That's the essential step."

He was asked if he were actively involved in fund-raising.

'Not a Crisis'

"It depends what you mean by actively," he said. "It's important to understand this is not a crisis campaign. These funds will have to be raised among a few people who have a combination of financial resources and a love of the community. These are people who want to hear the symphony playing again in San Diego."

Solomon praised McGill, named by O'Connor to mediate the dispute between the symphony association and its musicians, who have been without a contract since the fall. McGill acted as mediator in the talks that recently produced a verbal contract agreement.

He has also been named head of a commission proposed by O'Connor but yet to be appointed that would investigate the symphony's financial dealings and chart a course for the future. McGill, whose credentials also include the past presidency of Columbia University, has been praised for his prowess as a fund-raiser.

Solomon stopped short of using the word agreement, saying the verbal understanding with musicians is "a meeting of the minds upon which an agreement can be entered into. The association will not enter into that agreement," he said, "until we have the money to do it."

Gregory Berton, a string bass player and representative for the musicians, had no comment on the May 15 target date. He did say, however, that Debra McKeon, former operations manager of the New York Philharmonic, had been hired by the musicians to produce the Summer Pops season at Mission Bay.

"The only sticking point right now," Berton said, "is seed money. I'm not sure of the exact figure, but I think it's around $100,000 to get started.

"We have every intention of putting on a successful Pops season. It would be of the same character as previous Pops seasons. We're hopeful that it will be accomplished."

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