Members of a panel appointed to advise the Fairfax County Council of the Arts will meet Monday night under circumstances which could produce a permanent schism between the two groups.
The possibility of such a split is part of the fallout from last month's disclosure that the council has been given 100 shares -- worth a total of $1,000 -- in a cable television firm competing for two Fairfax County franchises.
One of the 12 panel members, who asked not to be identified, said the council's acceptance of the shares may have jeopardized the work the panel has done in formulating a plan to help the Board of Supervisors award grants to county arts groups.
"We are a citizens' advisory group that has put in six months' work assembling a program of grants for the arts and, just as importantly, on unifying the arts," the panel member said.
"Now, because of the council's action on the cable TV stock, it may mean a delay of a whole year before the grants program can be put into effect."
The question of having the panel separate itself from the council in order to protect the grants program will be raised at Monday night's meeting, the member said.
The advisory panel was formed after a meeting last March of about 100 representatives from arts groups in the county. The panel consists of two persons each from the fields of theater, dance, instrumental music, choral music, art and crafts.
Irvin Brobeck, staff director of the county arts council, said he did not know about possible dissension within the panel. "I haven't heard anything like that," he said. "It should be interesting."
Brobeck added that the main purpose of Monday's meeting will be to present panel members with the final package of grants propsals for submission to the Board of Supervisors.
He conceded, however, that the controversy over the cable shares could cause a delay in getting the grants program under way. "It could conceivably mean a year's delay," he said.
Supervisor Marie B. Travesky (R-Springfield), who supported the plan to have a grants program funded by the county, said last week, "No decision on delaying the program has been made. (But) I don't think the Board of Supervisors would consider the grants as long as they (the panel) are affiliated with the (arts) council.
Mia Cunningham, a member of the panel, said, "We may have missed this year's budget cycle," but added, "we have no intention of never submitting the budget package.
"Our main order of business at the meeting is to try to understand what has happened and how it concerns us. We haven't met since the cable TV information turned up about July 18."
At that time the supervisors ordered an investigation of the ties between the county arts council and Trans County Cable Communications, which is among 23 companies expressing interest in the two cable TV franchises which will be awarded next year.
Trans County gave the stock to the council in return for its advice in designing arts programing, according to Frederick Lee Ruck, former Fairfax County attorney, now acting as the company's legal counsel.
Ruck put the value of the council's shares at 1 percent of the company's current net worth of $100,000 but said that it would be considerably more valuable if Trans County receives one or more of the Fairfax franchises.
John F. Herrity, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said this week, "I anticipate that the Council of the Arts will do the right thing and disassociate themselves from any economic connections with any cable TV operation."
The council is a nonprofit organization which receives part of its funding from government agencies. In the fiscal year just ended, the council budget was $139,000, including $17,024 from Fairfax County and $15,003 from the Virginia Commission on the Arts.
Monday night's meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Green Spring Farm Park.