ARTS ORGANIZATIONS TO WATCH

Seemingly out of the blue and just two days after Christmas, the newly active Leo Freedman Foundation bestowed nearly $1 million on 12 arts groups and programs in its first round of grants. What a way to end a rather dismal year, dollar-wise, and begin a new one. Indeed, local arts institutions are bound to have their eyes trained on the Anaheim-based foundation in 1992 and beyond: With assets exceeding $12 million, its trustees say they will be doling out at least $500,000 in grants annually. Formed by Freedman, a Beverly Hills real estate developer who died in 1989 after making his fortune with hotels and other concerns in Anaheim, the foundation will fund "arts, theater, music and dance throughout Orange County . . . with emphasis in the city of Anaheim." It was established before Freedman's death in 1989, but unable to award grants until this year, after the sale of one of Freedman's ventures, the Anaheim Plaza Resort Hotel.

Orange County Philharmonic Society and Pacific Symphony. The county's two largest classical music organizations talked more seriously than ever in 1991 about combining their functions under a single umbrella. But many classical-music lovers expressed concern that the goals of the Pacific--a young and ambitious regional orchestra striving to achieve national recognition by the end of the decade--might at some point supersede those of the Philharmonic Society, a concert presenter whose mission is to bring national and international touring orchestras to the county. In 1992, their boards probably will decide whether a merger is go or no.

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