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Arts Center's '88 Funding Gap

May 08, 1988

Regarding your recent article about the Orange County Performing Arts Center's "funding challenge," I'm having a little trouble feeling sympathetic ("Can Arts Center Perform in the Future?" April 26).

One of the county's wealthiest families has just had a monument erected to its name and now would like area businesses to come up with almost $5 million to fund an "income gap" projected for 1988. Well, Mr. Segerstrom (Arts Center chief executive), let me say it the way my boss would. "Henry, your revenue is going up 21%, and your expenses are going up 29%. You claim corporate giving is 'falling behind' last year's pace, but you project fund-raising efforts to bring in 12% more in 1988 than in 1987. Your net loss before support is projected to grow more than 50%, and at that rate, it will exceed $40 million in five years. You are out of control!

"Here are some simple suggestions. First, use that million-dollar surplus from 1987 to help offset 1988 expenses. Second, hold growth in expenses to the same rate as growth in revenue. Those two things will take more than $2 million of your problem away. Now you only need about $2.7 million in fund-raising efforts, which is about 35% less than you achieved last year and is consistent with your concerns about 'corporate giving.' If you raise more than $2.7 million, apply it to your 1989 budget."

Mr. Segerstrom, my boss wouldn't have stopped there, but I think you get the idea. The approach suggested would look far more "responsible" to my boss, and perhaps to many other county businessmen on whose support you seem so dependent.

M.J. KNUDSEN

Huntington Beach

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