When the people who tried to shut down SDO got paid $1M

When the people who tried to shut down SDO got paid $1M

Jenna Simeonov

Thanks to Slipped Disc, I read the ugly story of Ian Campbell and his ex-wife Ann Spira Campbell, and how they were paid roughly $1M on their way out of the San Diego Opera board.

Last March, Ian Campbell “guided the board” into a vote to shut down San Diego Opera. Several board members were surprised, claiming that the decision was premature and hadn’t been fully discussed.

The board rebelled against the decision to shut down San Diego Opera, and about half of the members resigned. The Campbells were put on paid administrative leave, while the board reassembled into a more constructive state, eventually reviving the company.

This week, documents outlining SDO’s settlement with the Campbells were released, showing that Ian Campbell was paid a lump sum of $276,000, and Ann Spira Campbell was paid $200,000. The settlement also required SDO to release the $594,697 in a Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan, set aside for Spira Campbell.

The Campbells also were gifted free tickets for life at San Diego Opera, for their own personal use.

The board explained the funds: “A friend of the Opera, who has chosen to remain anonymous, donated the funds with the specific instruction that they be used to resolve all issues with the transition in leadership so that no other donors’ funds would be used for this purpose.”

It seems a little like either a board member in support of the Campbells wanted to make sure they’d be well taken care of, or an exasperated board member throwing money at a situation to make it go away. Either way, the use of large sums of money like this, when we’re talking about a poor industry fighting for funds, leaves a sour taste.

The story showed up on Reddit, too; one of the commenters left this:

“Here’s something I’ll say, as someone who has sung with SDO, and was singing with them when all of this went down - The free tickets for life were definitely a big ol’ ‘fuck you’ from the company to the Campbells. They are only usable by the Campbells themselves, and they are so hated and reviled around here that they would never dare to show their face here again. I actually think they’d have to show ID and pick them up at Will Call, which is something I would pay to see.”



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