PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gray skies are reflected in the glass, steel prow and sail of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.
A place with so much promise, but since its opening, the center – with its galleries, theater and classrooms – has since been sinking in a sea of red ink.
“The funding wasn’t here in Pittsburgh for that center,” says Needa Richardson, of Lawrenceville. “And it was just a new thing, and I just don’t think the timing was right. Great idea, but bad timing.”
Swamped by debts to pay off construction costs, a former federal bankruptcy judge was charged by the court to sell off the building to pay back a $7 million mortgage.
Potential rescuers were given until the end of last month to step up.
Pittsburgh Public Schools and attorney E.J. Strassburger have pitched ideas. The latest is from The Pittsburgh Foundation.
A statement from them says, in part: “The Pittsburgh Foundation has submitted a joint bid on behalf of the foundation group… to purchase the August Wilson Center’s Downtown building. Separately, the foundations are examining ways to maintain funding support for local African American arts programming.”
No other specifics were given.
“Everybody come together. We could help save it at least, because it would be a shame for it to go,” Allen Thomas, of the Hill District, says.
“I think it’s helping the African American culture, but anything we can do to help it – without going into debt,” said Larry Stakes, of Dormont.
“I do think it’s important,” Rob Copland, of Coraopolis, added. “I guess it’s going to have to be balanced with what the cost is going to be for it.”
Right now, the multi-million dollar facility is closed to the public.
But the primary objective of this latest proposal is to save the August Wilson Center so that it may reopen and remain viable for the long run.