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Rep. Kahn to introduce bill for state to buy Minnesota Orchestra

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If Rep. Phyllis Kahn has her way, the state of Minnesota will someday own the Minnesota Orchestra.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that Minneapolis DFL representative is sponsoring a bill in the next legislative session in early 2014 to buy the orchestra, which locked out its musicians over a year ago.

Kahn considers the orchestra a valuable asset, and wants the state to form a corporation to buy the organization. In turn, the state would sell stock in the orchestra to the general public as a way to protect that asset.

The representative has yet to contact the Minnesota Orchestral Association -- which runs the orchestra -- about her idea.

The Star Tribune says Kahn proposal would ask Gov. Mark Dayton to oversee the formation of a business that buys the orchestra. In addition, at least 50 percent of the ownership would be sold to members of the public, and no buyer could own more than five percent of the stock.

In addition, the rules would prevent the board of directors from making artistic decisions, the paper says.

According to MPR, Kahn cited the Green Bay Packers as a model for public ownership. She has also worked on a bill in years past for community ownership for the Twins.

Kahn told MPR that she expects the idea of state ownership of the orchestra to evolve once the bill is introduced.

The Star Tribune sought comment from musician's spokesman Blois Olson on Kahn's idea, and Olson responded with nothing to say more than, “We'll let (the bill) speak for itself."

The most recent development in the Minnesota Orchestra dispute was the resignation of the orchestra's music director, Osmo Vänskä, on Oct. 1.

A series of concerts put together by the locked-out musicians to bid farewell to Vänskä were sold out.

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