PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The August Wilson Center got national press for its incredible architecture, a stalwart structure in Downtown Pittsburgh reaching new heights for African American culture in the region.

But with the center unable to pay its bills, local leaders say the future is about more than bricks and mortar.

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“We have always been operating from position that the center matters and it’s more than a building, and so if it’s more than a building, then what is it?” said Janera Solomon, of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.

That question was posed to artists and community members across Pittsburgh with answers that were presented in a report called “August Wilson 2.0.”

The report concluded that if the building is sold to the local consortium of foundations, it needs to learn from the mistakes of the past.

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Going forward, the August Wilson Center needs to focus on dynamic programing that makes it a gathering place, not just a destination for weekend shows.

It needs to partner with the community, foundations and funders. And it needs to connect to its namesake.

“August Wilson – as a person, as a self-made person, as an icon for Pittsburgh – that matters to what this new center ought to be,” said Solomon. “Someone said it felt as though August Wilson’s name was an add on. We heard that quite a bit.”

While the August Wilson Center had some great programming like a nationally-recognized dance company, it must overcome many hurdles before it can realize these new goals.

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Kristine Sorensen