Bigger reserves for orchestra

Bigger reserves for orchestra
With more say over its funds, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra can stage more shows.

The Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) will soon enjoy bigger reserves and greater say over the use of its funds, which will in turn allow it to stage more shows and reach a wider audience.

This change comes as its almost $10-million trust fund created by the Tote Board in 1996 is being dissolved and merged with the group's endowment fund.

The board operates horse racing through the Singapore Turf Club and other forms of betting through Singapore Pools, and manages funding activities from the gaming surpluses.

Unlike a trust fund, which is governed by conditions prescribed by the donors, an endowment fund is typically made up of direct donations and wholly managed by the organisation itself.

For the SCO, the transfer of money from its trust fund to endowment fund will grow the capital sum under its control to about $40 million.

This move by SCO follows in the footsteps of the Singapore Symphonia Company, which was recently successful in its appeal to the High Court to dissolve a similar trust for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO).

The Tote Board had created a $25million trust fund for the SSO in 1989 to offer it long-term financial support. However, only the surplus above the $25 million capital can be used to fund the SSO's operations; any loss or shortfall in the capital sum had to be made good first before income could be paid out to the orchestra.

The company's general manager Chng Kai Jin, 58, says the volatile market over the last 10 years meant that the SSO has not been able to receive regular income from the trust, and in some years, there was no income to withdraw.

For example, the 2008 financial crisis caused the trust value to dip below $25 million, sparking a deficit for the SSO, which had budgeted for the income.

The Tote Board refused its request for a top-up but subsequently agreed to donate all the standing funds in the trust to the SSO's endowment fund.

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