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Results of Audit to Be Told : Arts: Music Center board expects to learn today if ‘inaccurate estimates’ led to a $3-million funds gap.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles Music Center board of directors is expected to learn at a meeting this afternoon how “inaccurate estimates” led to a $3-million shortfall in the center’s annual Unified Fund Drive.

Chairman Ronald Arnault said the board will receive the results of an audit that was prepared after the Sept. 8 disclosure that the Music Center had not met its $17.6-million fund-raising goal as was announced July 1.

Arnault said Friday that the completed audit by the Deloitte & Touche accounting firm reveals “no irregularities in the handling of Music Center funds,” which were all “expended on Music Center business. It’s a very complete audit.” Arnault continued to attribute the Music Center fund-raising shortfall to “inaccurate estimates” and the general poor health of the economy. He declined to specify whether the estimates were of anticipated gifts or actual revenues.

A source who serves in an official capacity at the Music Center and asked not to be named said Friday that staff members of the Unified Fund were “surprised when the announcement was made that (the Unified Fund) had met the goal, because all through the campaign indications were that they wouldn’t.”

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In response to the comment, Arnault said: “I guess what I’d say is that it was always appreciated, especially as the year developed, that it was going to be a difficult goal to make.”

Arnault, an executive vice president with ARCO, has been fielding all calls relating to the budget shortfall. Music Center president Esther Wachtell has been unavailable for comment and her office has referred all calls to Arnault.

On July 1, the Music Center announced that it had met its 1991 fund-raising goal of $17.6 million, which it said was a 15% increase over the previous year. On Sept. 8, the Music Center issued a revised estimate that projected a shortfall of as much as $3 million.

The Music Center said it had arranged a loan of up to $3 million from the Music Center Foundation to cover the shortfall and ensure that the Music Center’s resident groups--beneficiaries of the fund--would receive their planned allocations for 1991.

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The resident groups include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Center Theatre Group (the Mark Taper Forum and the Ahmanson), Los Angeles Music Center Opera, the Master Chorale and the Music Center Education Division.

The Music Center said earlier that it expects to provide an exact figure for the shortfall and the loan from the Music Center Foundation after today’s meeting. The foundation is an endowment fund with assets of about $50 million; the two fund-raising arms operate independently.

Music Center officials are also expected to announce the 1991-92 Unified Fund goal at today’s meeting.


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