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Onondaga County to fund group trying to revive symphony in Syracuse

Onondaga County lawmakers have agreed to give a fledgling group that's trying to revive a Syracuse orchestra in central New York some seed money.Lawmakers voted to spend $120,000 this year to help the Musical Associates of Central New York get off the ground this fall.  Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says the money, which comes from room occupancy tax revenue, would be handed out in $40,000 chunks, only after positive reports about the organizations process.

"What we're looking at is to make sure that there's events that they are performing, events the community can take advantage of, events that they are making revenues on, and how their private fundraising is going," said McMahon.

Lawmakers are also expected to approve $300,000 in a contingency account next year for the symphony, as well.  A year ago, lawmakers voted down a plan to help fund a different symphony organization.  

This is the third attempt to bring a symphony back to Syracuse, and McMahon says this proposal was better than others.

"Really what changed our mind was when the organization went to a new business plan, put things together, brought in professionals from throughout the community to vet the proposal to make sure it was attainable, sustainable," he said. "They narrowed their budget down six million dollars, they have a co-op model.  So it's not just like a regular enterprise, the musicians are stakeholders in this. If they don't get money, the musicians don't get paid."

The Syracuse Symphony went bankrupt in April of last year. This latest proposal to put a symphony back on the stage will be owned by the musicians.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.