The Minnesota Orchestra will return approximately $960,000 to the state arts board.

Orchestra management last December had pledged to sequester its fiscal 2013 grant from the state until a contract was reached with locked-out musicians. There is still no deal, so when the state’s fiscal year ended on Saturday, the funds were returned. Grants cannot be carried over to new fiscal periods.

In June, the Office of the Legislative Auditor reviewed the orchestra’s use of public money and determined that between 2010 and 2013, all state funds were used appropriately, including $14 million in bonding for a renovation of Orchestra Hall. The report also indicated the orchestra and arts board should negotiate on the question of whether any of the 2013 grant could be applied to general operations. It appears that none of the grant was allowed.

The orchestra’s board and musicians started contract negotiations 14 months ago. Talks broke off on Sept. 30 and musicians were locked out the following day. Since then, there has been one formal bargaining session, in early January.

Management’s original proposal was to cut minimum salaries by 32 percent. Musicians have not offered a counter. The musicians have said they will not return to bargaining unless the lockout is lifted. Management has refused that demand.

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