Music Center keeps its spending out of public view

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The county ordered an audit of spending at the downtown L.A. entertainment complex, but the L.A. Times reports that managers at the Music Center declined to turn over most of their records.

County Auditor-Controller John Naimo says he was able to view less than half of the Music Center’s financial records during his spending review. And he says that’s a violation of the operating agreement between the county and the non-profit board that runs the center.TAPER

The audit was ordered by the Board of Supervisors when it became clear that the Music Center was struggling to raise enough money to cover all of its expenses. A 50th anniversary celebration last December fell short of fundraising goals and the Music Center has since cut staff and eliminated programs.

A written response to the audit by Music Center management ignores the assertion that the non-profit failed to turn over financial records.

The Music Center – which includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theater, the Mark Taper Forum and other venues – receives $25 million a year from the county, out of a total budget of about $62 million.

For the audit, Music Center management only turned over records from money that it received directly from the county.musiccenterdance

The county auditor said there were several instances in which the Music Center did not completely document how it used that money. It cited poor record keeping and questionable spending, including three-quarters of a million dollars on lawyers and more than $150,000 for business meetings and catering.

The audit covered the past three fiscal years.

The Music Center has a new boss, Rachel Moore, who helped American Ballet Theater in New York get back on its feet before she took the L.A. job this summer. It’s not clear if she was part of the decision to withhold the bulk of the organization’s final records.