Opera association votes not to sell assets

by Angela Carone | KPBS
Story updated Monday at 3:30 p.m.

The San Diego Opera Association met Monday morning and voted to not sell the company’s assets. The group also recommended the opera’s board of directors rescind its vote to close the company that just concluded its 49th season.

The association, a group of some 850 members, has authority over the opera’s assets, but it also can advise and make recommendations to the governing board.

In its advisory capacity, the association recommended the board remove the opera’s longtime artistic and general director Ian Campbell and his ex-wife, Ann Spira Campbell, the opera’s deputy general director and chief fundraiser.

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The opera’s board placed the Campbells on paid leave on Friday. In 2011, the most recent year for which tax documents are available, Ian Campbell was paid an annual salary of $508,021, and Ann Campbell was paid $282,345.

About 160 of the association’s members attended Monday’s private meeting at San Diego City Hall. The votes to not sell the opera’s assets and to urge rescinding the closure vote were nearly unanimous, with only one person opposing both items, according to those who attended.

The vote to recommend removing the Campbells was 97 in favor, 37 opposed and 21 abstaining.

Len Simon, a San Diego attorney and 20-year member of the opera association, said this is the message the group delivered to the board: “That we want the opera to continue, that we’re flexible to exactly how the opera continues, that we’re uncomfortable having the Campbells involved any further, and that we’re hopeful they can be disengaged from the opera consistent with law, consistent with contracts as rapidly as possible and a new leadership can go forward.”

After the association met Monday morning, the opera’s board of directors held its own private meeting to discuss the future of the company. No major announcements were made when the meeting ended.

Financial problems led the opera’s board last month to decide to shut its doors for good, but employees and fans oppose the closure. The company’s initial target to cease operations on April 14 was later reset to May 19.

On Friday, opera officials announced that an escrow account had been established to accept donations to fund what would be the company’s 50th season. As of Monday, about $277,000 of the $1 million goal had been raised, an opera staff member said.

Tax deductible donations can be made online at sdopera.com/moveforward, or by calling (619) 533-7000 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

 

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