New York Philharmonic Postpones Historic Cuba Trip

The New York Philharmonic Thursday postponed a trip to Cuba later this month after it was unable to receive Treasury Department approval for a group of patrons to make the trip despite current U.S. travel restrictions.

While the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control had verbally granted approval for the Philharmonic's orchestra and staff to travel to Cuba, OFAC had not yet made a determination about the patrons, a Philharmonic official told ABC News.

A Treasury spokesman confirmed to ABC News that OFAC had not yet ruled on the patrons' licensing request.

With the trip fast approaching on Oct. 30, the orchestra elected to postpone its travel plans.

The group of approximately 150 patrons is essential because of the trip's total cost of $1 million to $2 million, the orchestra official said.

"With them, we'd be able to cover the cost of the trip," the official said. "Without them, it's not financially possible."

The Philharmonic has been actively pursuing potential concerts in Cuba since June. After receiving an invitation to travel there, orchestra officials received licenses from OFAC for two advance trips to the communist country in early July and late August. The trip was scheduled for Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.

However, OFAC verbally indicated to the Philharmonic that there was no category under which the group of patrons qualified for approval for a license, the orchestra official said. The Philharmonic countered that there was room for interpretation, but to no avail.

Philharmonic Claims Logistical Deadlines Made Wait for Travel OK Impossible

As the dates of the trip drew closer, the orchestra had to make a decision.

"We're less than 30 days away and a project of this nature has a lot of moving parts," the orchestra official said. "It's a complicated operation to move a symphony orchestra around the world. To make it possible to perform in the particular venue that was selected, there's a significant operational and logistical demand, including deadlines that have to be met, like signing a contract on a charter plane. We're facing a variety of deadlines."

"We have been asking them to make a ruling and they have not made a ruling yet," the orchestra official said of the conversations with OFAC.

The official emphasized that the Philharmonic hopes to reschedule the trip as soon as possible if it can get OFAC licenses for the group of patrons.

"We remain very committed to this," the official said.

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