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Orchestra soon off probation?

The Florida Orchestra took a major step Wednesday toward ending its probation with the Florida Arts Council. The probation jeopardized about $240,000 the orchestra receives each year from the state.

A peer review committee of the council voted 8-0 to remove the orchestra from the probation list, said Kathryn Holm, the orchestra's acting executive director.

The council will consider the committee's recommendation in July.

The orchestra was put on probation in 1990 after losing money for several years. Fiscal strength is one of the criteria used to judge whether the orchestra deserves funding as a major cultural institution.

Also, no one from the Florida Orchestra showed up last year at the peer review hearing.

On Wednesday, three orchestra officials were present along with George Steinbrenner, the former baseball magnate who has emerged as one of the orchestra's strongest supporters.

Steinbrenner flew the group to Tallahassee in his private plane.

Orchestra officials estimate the orchestra finished the 1990-91 season about $340,000 in the black.