In an effort to save money, a Garden Grove official has urged the city to replace subsidized performances by the Garden Grove Symphony with free concerts by military bands.
However, a military spokesman says regulations prohibit Navy bands from competing with civilian groups.
Council member Robert F. Dinsen was the lone dissenter when the council recently voted 4 to 1 to allocate $16,000 to support the orchestra's fifth annual free summer concert on the Village Green, Aug. 19. At that July 24 meeting, Dinsen asked the city staff to explore the possibility of using military bands to play future concerts in the park at no cost to the city. Dinsen also opposed an additional $14,000 to support the orchestra for the fiscal year which began July 1.
Twice in the past two years, military groups have presented free concerts at the Don Walsh Auditorium, said city spokesman John Bushman. Both the U.S. Navy Band, based in Washington, and the Commodores, the Navy's jazz ensemble, came to the city, Bushman said.
"If we can get them for free, and if people enjoy them, why should we waste $16,000?" Dinsen wondered in an interview. The councilman, who opposes all municipal support for the arts, including the annual Grove Shakespeare Festival, complained that the Garden Grove Symphony's overhead has grown too much.
"They use too many union musicians," he said. "They're overloaded with professionals."
However, according to Chief Petty Officer Stephen Evans, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy Band in San Diego, military groups are prohibited from replacing an organization of professional musicians.
For one thing, Evans said, military bands are "limited to (performing) patriotic programs as opposed to pure entertainment." More specifically, Evans said, the Navy's manual of public policy states that "military musicians will not be placed nor place themselves in competition with civilian musicians." Replacing the orchestra in Garden Grove concerts, Evans said, appeared to fall into that category.
Union and orchestra officials said they were not opposed to military concerts in the city.
"I have no argument with anything that doesn't replace a paid performance," said Robert W. Stava, secretary treasurer of Orange County Musicians Assn., Local No. 7, which represents members of the Garden Grove Symphony.
Yaakov Dvir-Djerassi, marketing director for the orchestra, said that, while "there is nothing wrong with a military band coming down here . . . I think the city should always take pride in their own creativity--the (Grove) Shakespeare Festival, the Gem Theatre and the symphony--the unique things that the town has to offer."
The total cost of the Village Green concert, Dvir-Djerassi said, is $27,000. The orchestra will pay the difference.