SAN DIEGO — The Old Globe Theatre plans to appeal the $95,000 grant it was awarded Friday by the California Arts Council, according to Development Director Cassie Solomon-Hay. The grant was $20,000 less than the previous year's $115,000.
The reduced funding seemed to correspond exactly to the reduction in the Globe's application. The Globe asked for $150,000 this year instead of the $170,000 it applied for last year after the Arts Council asked groups to stop inflating the figures in their applications. By complying, Solomon-Hay said, the theater was penalized when other arts groups either did not reduce their grant requests or increased them.
Not so, said the Arts Council's Ray Tatar, who oversees grants to theaters. During a panel evaluation of applicants, the Globe, which Tatar called "a national treasure," was reduced "one point" on an eight-point scale that attempts to standardize criteria for awarding grants.
While the Globe received positive marks for "doing more risk-taking on the mainstage," panelists scored the theater in other areas. "The issues of production quality remain an abiding concern," the panel's report states, and adds, "The visual elements seem to overpower acting elements and directing." The panel was concerned also about the bilingual Teatro Meta project, in which there were fewer activities last year than the previous year, and the Play Discovery Program, which was seen as stronger dramaturgically in 1985.
COMBO ADVANCES: A city manager's report that will be taken up today by the Public Services and Safety Committee recommends that COMBO become the conduit through which virtually all city government arts funding flows. (Although the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art is a COMBO member, museums are considered separate for funding purposes by the city manager's office.)
At least two City Council members on the committee are not so sure that COMBO, which is slated to receive $853,352 in city funds for redistribution this year, is the ideal umbrella organization. "We need more information," said Barry Schultz, a spokesman for Councilman William Jones. "We're concerned about COMBO's (recent) reorganization."
Abbe Wolfsheimer, another committee member, has distributed a memorandum that questions several recommendations in the city manager's report, including the COMBO matter. Wolfsheimer feels that such a policy change would compel arts groups to join COMBO, which restricts certain activities of its members. Wolfsheimer also believes it is premature to designate COMBO the city's arts umbrella organization because COMBO's recent internal reorganization remains untested.
Committee members Judy McCarty, Gloria McColl and Uvaldo Martinez did not return a reporter's calls regarding the report.
SYMPHONY WATCH: New San Diego Symphony Executive Director Wesley Brustad is already making an impact on operations. Senior staff members have been called for bi-weekly Saturday morning meetings. At the informal meetings--most of the top eight staffers show up in jeans--subjects ranging from potential problems to potential fund-raising projects are discussed. The meetings, which were termed "tremendously productive," are part of Brustad's effort to build a managerial team, a symphony source said.
The other side of the picture is that Brustad has eliminated 9 of 36 positions, and reorganization is continuing.
Meanwhile, musicians picketing Symphony Hall are handing out new leaflets that raise questions about their pay. One paragraph of the leaflet indicates that, while the symphony budget has grown from $4 million to $8 million over the last four years, orchestra pay has grown from $2 million to $3 million. Another paragraph alleges that during the same time, while the budget was growing, the players' share dropped from 50% to 37%.
CAN'T HELP LOVING: Equitable Life Leasing Corp., a national firm based in San Diego but with minimal local business interests, is putting major money into the San Diego performance of "Porgy and Bess," March 5-8 at the Civic Theatre. The San Diego Opera announced Monday that Equitable Leasing is sponsoring "Porgy" to the tune of a $75,000 grant, believed to be the largest corporate donation in the history of the San Diego Opera. The Houston Grand Opera production of George Gershwin's masterpiece is being presented under the auspices of the local opera company. The man behind the grant: Equitable Life's Chairman, Edward R. Herman, was overwhelmed by "Porgy" when he saw it as a child.