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Council Adds $1 Million to Funding for Arts Groups; O'Connor Pleased

June 10, 1988|HILLIARD HARPER | San Diego County Arts Writer

The San Diego City Council unanimously voted a $1-million increase for arts support Thursday, giving substance to Mayor Maureen O'Connor's proclamation of 1988 as the Year of the Arts.

"I think the arts (are) good business for San Diego," O'Connor said after the 8-0 vote. Councilman Bob Filner was absent. As an example, she spoke of Sunday's Tony Awards in New York, during which the musical "Into the Woods," first produced at the Old Globe Theatre, was nominated for best musical and actress Joanna Gleason was honored as best actress.

"You can't get that kind of publicity for San Diego (in any other way)," she said of the national broadcast.

Support Nears $5 Million

Thursday's increases pushed funding to $4.97 million for fiscal 1989, up from $3.82 million. The increase comes chiefly from a 1-cent boost in the city's hotel and motel bed tax, authorized by the City Council earlier Thursday, from which the arts are funded.

Scores of representatives from the city's arts institutions packed the council's committee room at City Hall for the hearing before cheering the final vote. There was no public discussion because comments were taken at a previous hearing of the council's Public Safety and Services Committee.

Sam Woodhouse, producing director of the San Diego Repertory Theatre, said, "Finally, they have recognized the impact of the arts on the national image and the quality of life in the city."

City contributions to the Rep's $2.3-million budget will almost double next year, to $105,000 from $55,913 .

Most of the arts groups that received city money last year had their funding increased, and the biggest boosts for annual expenses went to the Old Globe Theatre and the San Diego Symphony. The Council raised the Globe's funding $440,249 and the symphony's $370,186.

Additional Money Merited

"We feel it's a deserved increase," Globe general manager Tom Hall said. "We have for many years been proportionately under-funded. I think there was a serious effort by the task force and the committee to get an equitable balance."

The total city grant for the Globe next year is $600,000, the largest of all arts groups. The Globe's budget for the current year is $6.5 million.

The symphony's $370,186 raises its total to $490,000, up from $119,814 . However, the total city grant to the symphony, including operations and capital expenses, declined. Last year, the symphony also received $440,000 as the last installment of a $1.5-million contribution for Symphony Hall's renovation.

For the first time, members of a cultural arts task force assisted the city manager in budgeting allocations for the arts. Previously, a large portion of arts money was funneled in a lump sum to COMBO (Combined Arts and Education Council, a private arts fund-raising body) for further distribution. But last year, COMBO--reacting to criticism of its administration policies--volunteered to turn the task back to the city.

Seven of the 56 organizations funded received no city grant this year. Four that had been recipients were dropped. Most groups, large and small, received sizable increases.

The La Jolla Playhouse's grant was doubled to $120,000. Sushi Gallery, which received no city money this year, was awarded $45,000.

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