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Symphony Bylaw Change Imperils Clark's Status on Board

July 01, 1988|JESS BRAVIN

Pacific Symphony executives professed ignorance as to what the effect would be when they acted this week to strip orchestra employees of their eligibility to serve on the symphony's board of directors.

However, the one employee affected by the action, founder and outgoing conductor Keith Clark, said Wednesday that "it means they've kicked me off the board."

After the symphony board's annual meeting Monday night, officials announced a set of bylaw changes, financial figures and personnel decisions regarding the orchestra's top employees.

Among a series of bylaw changes intended to make the Pacific Symphony's structure "similar to . . . other regional orchestras in the United States," the board approved "qualifications" for directors "that include the requirement that no director hold a position of employment with the organization."

Board Vice President Cornelia Mazer said that the bylaw changes had been under study for the past year and that they took effect immediately.

But she and board President John Evans said they had not considered how the amendment would affect Clark, who is the only symphony employee serving on the 60-member body. They could not say whether the vote actually removed Clark from the board, or whether only future board appointments would be affected.

"It's more of a pragmatic thing than aimed at any one person," Evans said. "Of course, we would always listen to Keith as a matter of courtesy."

But Clark, when told of the action, said, "It appears that although no one has had the courtesy to inform me, in fact I have been voted off the board."

Clark is leaving the symphony he founded 10 years ago after board members and Executive Director Louis G. Spisto reportedly concluded that Clark lacked sufficient musical talent to bring the orchestra national prominence.

Clark was vacationing in Northern California when the vote was taken. He said he had not been informed that his status as a board member was to be considered at the meeting.

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