MN Orchestra to return close to $1 million in unused grant money

The Minnesota Orchestra will return $960,000 in unused state arts board funds.

The money had been allocated for general operating expenses during the fiscal year which ended June 30th. The Orchestra had sequestered the funds after concerns were raised about how they were being used during the ongoing musicians’ lockout, which began October 1st.

Orchestra President and CEO Michael Henson said management had pledged not to use the money unless there was a contact settlement with musicians. Now with the end of the fiscal year having passed, Henson said the money will be returned.

“We made a pledge to the legislature last December that we would use none of this funding while we were still in this labor dispute this year,” he said. “And therefore the reason to hand it back is that we are honoring that pledge that we made.”

State Arts Board Executive Director Sue Gens said the orchestra’s decision renders moot proposed meetings on whether the state would require the return of some or all of the funds.