Cultural tragedy

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The movement toward foreclosure of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture is a tragedy for the city and certainly a great disappointment for the black community. The monument to one of the country's greatest playwrights and one of our own is in a shambles. Recently an accounting firm released its audit -- months overdue -- which reduced the value of the center's assets by about half to $20.5 million. The taxpayers, the foundations and the others who contributed are all left with little to show for their generosity.

There were many who had reservations, not about the project but about its scale. Would not a more modest tribute that would have left the center endowed with a comfortable reserve have served it better?

A list of the board of directors of the center reveals a surprising list of capable people: presidents of a subsidiary of a large bank, a well-known engineering firm and a leading advertising agency and vice presidents of another bank and a large insurance company. This is a group with substantial business experience and savvy, all of which begs the question: Where was the board of directors when the August Wilson Center was slowly sinking into bankruptcy?

HARRY M. CORBETT
Oakland

 


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