By Mike Downing
According to Natasha Lindstrom of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will “begin taking rental bookings for events in mid-May and beyond” at the August Wilson Center.
The Center is now owned by the Pittsburgh Foundation, which is in the process of appointing a permanent governance board to oversee the center.
Heinz Endowment President Grant Oliphant and Richard King Mellon Foundation Director Scott Izzo are also involved.
This is a great development. August Wilson’s legacy is too important to Pittsburgh to abandon it too readily. Were mistakes made the first time around? Absolutely. Can those problems be fixed? I remain hopeful.
The biggest issue is revenue stream. The center needs to see itself as a business, not as a community center. I believe that if the initial organizers had a fault, it was that they were too generous with the facility.
In addition, from day one the center was plagued with debt. Now it has a chance to start debt-free.
I do believe it is unfortunate that Mr. King has said that he “does not anticipate appointing any members who were on the center’s previous leadership teams.” With all due respect, I believe that having access to someone with deep background knowledge of the center, such as Sala Udin, would help to bring a cohesive vision to the center and would help prevent the new leadership from falling into previous traps.