San Diego Opera moves slowly despite deadline
Credit: San Diego Opera

San Diego Opera moves slowly despite deadline

edited by Lorie Hearn | inewsource

In a special meeting on Monday, the board of the San Diego Opera gave the institution until the end of April to stave off closure, but sources told KPBS it still hasn’t formed the special committee that is charged with researching future options.

The board convened on Monday to answer questions from directors who were concerned that they didn’t have adequate information before voting on March 19 to close the company and nix the 2015 season, which was to have been the opera’s 50th birthday.

The board wound up delaying closure from April 13 — after the last performance of “Don Quixote” — until April 29. A special committee was to research future options for the opera and examine the company’s finances.

Sources on the board told KPBS that as of late Thursday afternoon, no committee has been formed. There’s also no timeline or action plan for its work.

Opera management and leadership also has not answered a letter, sent by a group of board members on Friday of last week, requesting documents that may have led to the proposed shutdown, the sources said. The documents include financial reports, compensation agreements and calendar appointments with possible donors.

Board president Karen Cohn did not respond to an email request for an interview or for answers to questions about the special committee and the documents.

In the meantime, KPBS has obtained documents showing that the five-week severance offered to the staff of the San Diego Opera has been reduced to three weeks. The reason cited was the board’s vote to postpone closing.

The initial paperwork sent to the staff said the opera would close on April 14 and they would be paid through May 19. A document sent on April 2 said the severance agreement was withdrawn. If the opera closed on April 29, employees still would only be paid through May 19.

The special committee is supposed to look into concerns raised about management during an internal investigation held in late February with opera staff. Board members did not know about the investigation when they voted to close on March 19.

During Monday’s follow-up meeting, board members asked to see the investigation report, according to sources. Board leadership said they were concerned about leaks to the media and were advised by lawyers not to share that information.

Board president Cohn spoke to a cluster of reporters after Monday’s five-hour meeting. She implored San Diegans to buy tickets to this weekend’s performance of “Don Quixote.” She also said the company needs $10 million to save the opera’s 2015 season.

Cohn’s mention of a campaign to raise $10 million for the 2015 season came as a surprise to some board members, according to a source, who said it was not an item the board voted on.

Ticket sales to “Don Quixote” are exceeding ticket goals, according to an opera spokesperson.

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About Angela Carone | KPBS:

Angela Carone | KPBS
Angela Carone covers arts and culture for KPBS. Angela has degrees in political science from Pennsylvania State University and in English literature from Georgia State University. She is also a published photographer.