Foundations Begin Restructuring of August Wilson Center

Dec 4, 2014

Do not expect to hear much out of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture for the next few months.

According to Pittsburgh Foundation spokesman Doug Root the Center will be entering a "quiet period" as an interim governing body has the facility assessed and searches for a new permanent oversight board.  

The temporary panel will include the heads of the Heinz Endowments, R.K. Mellon and the Pittsburgh Foundation — the three foundations that were instrumental in orchestrating a purchase of the bankrupt building from Dollar Bank.

Root said the temporary body will be in place for three to six months while they look for representatives for the Building Board, the majority of whom will be African American. The interim body will also contract with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to assess the condition of the building and its contents. Root said the building has been without security for a year.

"You could have a situation where someone could come in and take something or sometimes it's by accident, sometimes it's on purpose," he said. "It's just for that long a period of time you're concerned so you want to do an inventory."

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will also be contracted to manage the building and oversee programming along with the Building Board and an advisory committee, according to a news release. In addition, Root said the the August Wilson Center Recovery Committee, which was formed to give voice to the community's perspective on the future of the center, will continue to be a part of the process.

"They've been part of this since the beginning, since before the sale went through, so they'll be playing a significant role," Root said.

Root said transparency will be the norm going forward and the future Building Board will issue quarterly reports on planning, programming and finances. Root did not have a timeline for when the facility would re-open to the public.