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Friends of August Wilson Center close to forming corporation to run facility

Saturday, May 3, 2014, 10:10 p.m.

A group calling itself the Friends of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture is close to forming a corporation that would run the facility, a center founder and former board member said on Saturday.

The financially troubled center's corporation is active, according to state records, but it no longer has board members and likely will be dissolved, said Sala Udin, who sat on its board from 2000 to 2010 and is involved in the Friends effort.

“It could ostensibly at some point either bid on the building, take ownership of the building or receive funds to continue programming,” Udin said of the would-be corporation. “Exactly who would be in it or how it would function is not known at this point.”

The Downtown center's court-appointed receiver, Judith K. Fitzgerald, has recommended a New York company's $9.5 million offer to buy the building and build a 200-room hotel above it. Fitzgerald couldn't be reached for comment.

Sale proceeds would help to erase the center's $10 million in debts. The bid by 980 Liberty Partners would allow the center to keep its offices and use the building's theater at least 120 days or nights a year for a nominal charge.

Udin opposes that plan, noting, “In order to preserve the mission of the August Wilson Center and operate it primarily as an African-American cultural center, the August Wilson Center needs to own the assets and not just be tenants in a hotel-owned entity.”

The second in a series of community meetings to discuss ways to save the center will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in The Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., East Liberty. Ken Foster, director of the Arts Leadership Program at the University of Southern California, will speak.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or




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