PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Dollar Bank’s ownership of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, through a sheriff’s sale, lasted about 48 hours.

Now the new owner is a consortium of local foundations and city and county taxpayers through government agencies.

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“This was tough. This was a hard messy transaction,” said Kevin Acklin, chairman of the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Appearing at a taping of the Sunday Business Page, Acklin and Grant Oliphant, president of the Heinz Endowments, credited the larger community with saving the August Wilson Center.

“The community came together to make it possible,” noted Oliphant.

The rescuers include the Heinz Endowments at $2.45 million, the Richard King Mellon Foundation at $2.35 million, the Pittsburgh Foundation at $500,000, the Thomas Tull Family Foundation at $500,000, and city and county taxpayers at $3.15 million through the URA and the county sales tax.

Recognizing that mismanagement and high debt doomed the last August Wilson Center, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will operate the new center.

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“The Cultural Trust has enormous strength in managing cultural facilities, so they’ve been asked at least for the first three years to help manage the building, make sure it gets scheduled properly, that it’s maintained in a way that is consistent with a cultural facility,” noted Oliphant.

As for programming, the new owners recognize that to be successful the August Wilson Center must appeal beyond race to everyone.

“The most important challenge is how does it connect to the broad community, both the African American community, which its previous iteration didn’t do well enough, and the broader community so that we all have a stake in its future,” added Oliphant.

Thanks to city and county taxpayers and these foundations, the August Wilson Center has a second chance.

This time it will operate — without debt — under experienced management through the Cultural Trust, and with programs that attract a diverse audience across racial lines, just like the great playwright August Wilson’s plays do.

Look for a reopening in late spring or early summer of 2015.

You can catch The Sunday Business Page this Sunday at 6:30 a.m.

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