Richmond Performing Arts Center Will Go Ahead Without City Funds

Classic Arts News   Richmond Performing Arts Center Will Go Ahead Without City Funds
The Virginia Performing Arts Foundation will build its performing arts center without any city funds, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

This significant change, along with the news that foundation president Brad Armstrong will resign at the end of the year, was announced at a press conference on October 12.

This development in the Richmond Performing Arts Center's history is an attempt to work around disagreements with Richmond mayor L. Douglas Wilder—about fundraising, deadlines, and permits—that have effectively stalled the $112 million project.

Wilder has charged that the foundation cannot raise sufficient funds, and raised concerns about misuse of city funds. He has suggested an alternative, less-ambitious plan for the center, which involves simply renovating the Carpenter Center, an existing structure, rather than building a new one around it. He has also said, before this new announcement from the foundation, that he would block the remaining $4.4 million in city funds owed to the project for planning and design.

James E. Ukrop, the foundation's chair, said, "For six months, we have been distracted from our work because of an unfortunate disagreement with the city administration. We can no longer allow ourselves to be distracted."

Wilder still wants to proceed with the Carpenter Center plan; according to the Times-Dispatch, he will introduce an ordinance to that effect. He might also ask the foundation to pay back the city funds already paid into the project.

Armstrong said that his resignation had nothing to do with the criticism leveled at the arts center, but that his five-year commitment to the project had ended. Armstrong came under fire earlier this year when it was revealed that his annual salary $275,000. Last month the foundation announced that he was taking a $100,000 pay cut.

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