The 61-year-old Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Guild has started plans to dissolve, according to guild board President Gloria Stewart.
The move came about after the CSO board asked the guild, a 200-member volunteer support organization for the symphony, to turn its checkbook over to the CSO board.
Stewart said the guild's executive board met to discuss the situation last week, then held an emergency meeting of members Thursday.
Executive committee members felt that, if the guild was not in control of the funds it raised, it has no reason to continue to have an executive committee or a board, she said.
"A motion was made to dissolve or to start the dissolution process," she said. "We are looking into making sure that we had enough members present for a legal vote and that we are following Roberts Rules of Order. We are not 100 percent moving toward dissolution, but the motion carried."
Part of the discussion taking place is what will happen to various guild programs, such as the vocal competition it sponsors and the scholarship programs it funds.
CSO board President Susan Rich said the request for the checkbook was in no way intended to force the guild to dissolve. She said the guild is a division of the CSO and as such, the money it raises belongs to the CSO.
"The only thing that has been done is that the board voted to just move the guild fund into the symphony account," Rich said. "The only thing that has changed is that they are a division of the symphony, like the Youth Orchestra, and they have maintained a bank account but under the same symphony tax ID number.
"I am just trying to get things lined up as they should be legally," she said. "From a legal standpoint, that money should have always been in the symphony account at SunTrust."
CSO Executive Director Molly Sasse said organizations such as the CSO Guild, which are made up primarily of women, served an important role in years past when women often were banned from serving on boards. But the business of running an organization such as the CSO has changed, she said.
"I think this is a shift in how business is done," she said. "You wouldn't dream of not having a woman on a board today. The need for guilds is not as great.
"The CSO will continue to raise money from all the resources we have in the past," Sasse said.
Stewart said the CSO Guild presented a check for $120,000 to the CSO in June, the proceeds of events such as a gala and donations.
When the request for the guild's checkbook was made, she presented the CSO with a check for $36,000. The remainder of the account, around $5,000, will be used to pay any remaining bills and other obligations, she said.
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6354.