2 Arts Groups Better Their Scores in Grant Evaluations


Two Orange County arts groups received higher ratings than last year, and four others lost no ground during annual evaluations Friday for California Arts Council grants.

An advisory panel measured organizational as well as artistic strength using a four-point scale. It gave the Pacific Chorale, Pacific Symphony, Opera Pacific and Garden Grove Symphony ranks of 4-, 3, 3 and 2+, respectively, the same each received last year. The Master Chorale of Orange County went from 3 to 4-, and the South Coast Symphony went from 3- to 3.

Arts council officials say the correlation between rankings and actual grants will depend on the size of the arts council budget, which will be determined this summer. In past years, grants have been awarded to groups with ranks of 3- and above.

Panel members included John Alexander, artistic director of the Pacific Chorale. He left the room when his group was discussed, however.


In talking about Opera Pacific late Thursday, Patricia Mitchell, deputy general director of the Los Angeles Music Center Opera, praised artistic director David DiChiera for “trying to move the repertory into a more serious direction with more emphasis on grand opera and less on musical theater.”

(Opera Pacific administrative director Patrick Flynn, observing the panel meeting, said the company’s 1991 season could be its first with no musical at all. He explained that the troupe wants to “broaden its operatic repertory” and that there are few musicals available. There will be an announcement on the choices in a few weeks, Flynn said.)

Opera Pacific received $41,880 last year.

Panelists praised Pacific Symphony’s performances and its “high standards,” but they said they are concerned about the 11-year-old orchestra’s accumulated deficit of $711,271 (its budget is $4.7 million).

“Hopefully, with a new music director in place, they can get on with the business of reducing this deficit,” said Berkeley pianist Rae Imamura. Carl St. Clair was hired in February, ending a two-year search to replace founding music director Keith Clark. St. Clair will assume the post in October.

The orchestra received $39,319 last year.

Tere Romo, manager of the arts council Organizational Support Program, noted that while the boards of both the orchestra and opera company grew over the past year, the number of minorities on those boards did not. Board diversity has been a major arts council concern and a criterion for awarding grants.

Panelists applauded, though, the increase in the number of minority artists hired by the opera (from 482 to 511) and Pacific Symphony’s programming of a work by Jose Pablo Moncayo, a major Latino composer.

In July, the orchestra and opera troupe will each be given another ranking for community outreach, and that will affect their overall scores. Further, all rankings are subject to approval by the full council late this summer.

The two chorales, the South Coast Symphony and the Garden Grove Symphony were discussed earlier in the week.