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COMBO to Divert Symphony Funds to Other Arts Groups

Times Staff Writer

COMBO announced Wednesday that $57,000 originally designated for the beleaguered San Diego Symphony Assn. will not be paid. Instead, it will be divided among 29 other beneficiaries of the Combined Arts and Education Council of San Diego County.

Officials of the arts-funding organization said that an interest-bearing account was set up in November after the symphony canceled its winter season and angered musicians with a union lockout. At that time, COMBO suspended its monthly payments to the symphony until performances resumed.

Lynn McGough, controller of COMBO, said funds normally earmarked for the symphony were accumulated each month in the interest-bearing account.

McGough was asked if this meant COMBO was giving up on the symphony.

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“Not at all,” she said. “If the symphony resumes performances before the end of our fiscal year (June 30), the funds will resume.”

That, however, poses a problem. The symphony association has already said publicly that it will not sponsor this year’s Summer Pops program at Mission Bay. Symphony musicians are trying to fund the Pops on their own. Efforts so far have been unsuccessful. A spokesman in the San Diego city manager’s office said Friday is the deadline for musicians to offer a final plan for Pops funding.

McGough said that, if symphony musicians end up sponsoring the Pops, they could be eligible for funding from COMBO.

“Our contract is with the association,” she said. “But if the players request the money, that’s an individual case that would go before the allocations committee. I just can’t predict how they’d decide.”

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Herbert J. Solomon, president of the symphony’s board, said he was “disappointed” at COMBO’s decision, but offered no further comment.


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