Despite fiscal woes, Yongin will create orchestra

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Despite fiscal woes, Yongin will create orchestra

Yongin in Gyeonggi is pushing ahead with its plans to establish two city-run musical ensembles from scratch despite being unable to pay a court-ordered 515.9 billion won ($456 million) in reparations to the Canadian consortium that built Yongin a rapid transit line.

The city’s 10 billion won initiative will create a full symphony orchestra by next year as well as a gukak, a traditional Korean band, by 2013, the city government announced Sunday. It also added that 2 billion won will be spent annually starting in 2014 for operating expenses of the two music ensembles.

The orchestra and gukak had been campaign pledges made by Yongin’s current mayor, Kim Hak-kyu.

To fund the project, Yongin must first revise a city ordinance to encompass performing arts companies for adults into existing statutes. The city government said it would request a revision at a city council meeting scheduled for February and then allocate 5 billion won in March for start-up costs for the symphony orchestra and gukak after the city budget is approved.

But civic groups and Yongin’s city council have criticized the city government’s announcement, opposing plans for the musical ensembles and calling the initiative a “rash decision” in the face of a mounting fiscal crunch.

The city failed to make its first payment of 453 billion won in reparations as ordered by the International Court of Arbitration in mid-October after the mayor refused to start services of the transit line. The 18.5-kilometer (11.5-mile) system connecting the city to the Bundang Line was completed in July 2010, but the line’s opening has been delayed after Kim questioned the feasibility of the service and raised safety concerns.

The city government, for its part, said it would minimize expenses for the symphony orchestra and gukak by maintaining a minimum number of musicians as permanent members.

By Yim Seung-hye []
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