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Documents Show Balboa Park Centennial Planning Group Spent $2.6 Million

Photo credit: BRC Imagination Arts

Lighting up the walls of the museums lining El Prado in Balboa Park, as shown in this rendering, had been under consideration for the 2015 centennial celebration.

The disbanding organization that sought to put on a yearlong extravaganza to celebrate next year's 100th birthday of Balboa Park released financial documents Monday showing it received more than $3 million in revenue and spent $2.6 million.

Balboa Park Centennial Inc. posted the documents on its website, www.balboapark.org, in response to numerous requests for information on how public funds were dispersed. The organization went through several CEOs and event producers before turning the reins of the celebration back to the city last week.

BPCI retained consultant Gerry Braun to wind down its activities and compile reports.

"BPCI asked its accountants to prepare this document so San Diegans have accurate and current information regarding BPCI's financial activities and expenses,'' Braun said. "This is the beginning of a comprehensive disclosure process.''

Last week, co-chairs Ben and Nikki Clay said "there is not adequate private funding needed'' to have "the yearlong celebration of global significance that had been envisioned.''

According to news reports, BPCI missed key deadlines, brushed off community groups that wanted to be involved and exaggerated in funding applications about having "key partnerships'' that didn't exist.

According to the financial documents, the organization received $1.26 million from the city of San Diego's Major Events Revolving Fund; nearly $910,000 from the Tourism Marketing District -- a quasi-independent corporation that distributes funds to promote San Diego as a tourist destination; $375,000 from the city's Arts & Culture Commission; and $40,000 from the county of San Diego.

In addition, nearly $488,000 was received from nine private donors — individuals and organizations — that were not named.

The largest chunks of money were spent to pay programming producers and consultants, and BPCI leaders. Among them, according to the report:

— more than $467,000 to Autonomy Inc.;

— nearly $464,000 to Loma Media Partners,which handled marketing efforts;

— more than $131,500 to J&S Silverman Consulting;

— nearly $182,000 to Mike McDowell;

— more than $135,700 to Julie Dubick; and

— more than $123,500 to Mark Germyn.

The documents were prepared by the accounting firm AKT LLP.

Braun said BPCI is also preparing documents that will show agendas, attachments and minutes of executive and committee meetings; programming and planning documents; ownership and content for BPCI's social media sites, trademarks and logo; sponsorship funding agreements and presentation materials; TMD applications and reports; marketing and outreach documents; other items in possession of BPCI that have been requested by the city of San Diego's Office of Special Events.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said last week that he plans to work with City Council President Todd Gloria, whose district includes Balboa Park, "to move forward with a more practical and realistic celebration that recognizes the character and history of Balboa Park.''

The revised celebration "would focus on the existing cultural institutions within the park,'' Faulconer said.

Faulconer and Gloria said they expect to provide more details on the new celebration plans in the coming weeks.

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