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Minnesota Orchestra to return $960K arts grant to state

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The state arts board is getting its $960,000 grant back from the Minnesota Orchestra, the Star Tribune reports.

The return of the funding to the board stems from a pledge made by orchestra management in December, who said if the labor dispute with its locked-out musicians wasn't resolved by the end of the fiscal year, it would return the money.

The fiscal year came an end on Saturday and no grants can be carried over into a new fiscal year, the Star Tribune says.

The return of the grant is the latest development in the lockout saga, which began Oct. 1, 2012. There has been one formal bargaining session since then, in early January, which went nowhere.

Orchestra management has proposed a 32 percent reduction in minimum musician salaries, and the musicians have never made a counteroffer. The musicians have indicated that they would return to the bargaining table if the lockout is lifted, but management has refused the request.

The lockout caused the cancellation of the entire 2013-14 Minnesota Orchestra season, and musicians leaving the orchestra to look for work in other cities.

Music director Osmo Vänskä, also wrote in a letter in May, saying he would leave his post if the lockout causes the orchestra loses a prestigious Nov. 3 engagement at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

In information provided in June by the state Office of the Legislative Auditor, the audit determined that all state funds granted between 2010 and 2013 were used appropriately, including $14 million in bonding for the renovation of Orchestra Hall, the Star Tribune reports.

The report also said that none of the $960,000 grant from the State Arts Board was allowed to applied to general operations.

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