$120K in Question at Schwartz Center - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

$120K in Question at Schwartz Center

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The Schwartz Center for the Arts in downtown Dover. (Photo: WBOC) The Schwartz Center for the Arts in downtown Dover. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del.- The Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover is clarifying some details about whether or not it will receive funding from two of its biggest donors.

Those donors are Delaware State University and Wesley College, and they have yet to come through with funding that they generally contribute to the center. WBOC reported Wednesday that the center had received unofficial notice that there would be no more contributions, according to executive director Sydney Arzt.

Thursday, Schwartz Center for the Arts Board President Tracey Miller says it has been expected for years. She also said the colleges have not yet officially notified the board what their plans for funding are.

"They're giving us the opportunity to stay in the theater," she said. "They're doing everything they said they would do. And three years ago they told us there was a possibility that they would pair down funding."

According to Miller, when the Schwartz Center was struggling financially in the early 2000s, DSU and Wesley came to the rescue, along with the Friends of the Capital Theater committee. She says the two university presidents stepped up and struck an agreement that each entity would give the center $60,000 per year.

She says all three groups owned the building and that the colleges have kept their end of the  deal. The two colleges eventually took over the building and both have a 50 percent stake, according to Miller. She says they have signaled they want to stop providing that funding at some point.

Without the funding, the Schwartz Center needs to find a way to come up with $120,000. Miller says it has been years since they have done any type of fund raising outside of ticket sales and donations. She sees this as a glaring opportunity to turn back and make the theater all about the community again.

"What do you want to see? What do you want to do there?" she asked. "What's going to make you come out of your garden on Saturday, take a shower, get dressed and come to the Schwartz?"

WBOC went to the DSU president's office Thursday because of unreturned phone calls from the university's attorney. The news crew was escorted out of the building by DSU spokesman Carlos Holmes, who said the university does not believe this is a story.

"At this point, no decision has been made on the funding," he said.

WBOC asked why DSU would want to risk the financial security of a theater it saved in the early 2000s. Holmes said the Board of Trustees still has time to make a decision about whether to fund the Schwartz Center. The theater's fiscal year begins in one month, according to Arzt.

Wesley College has yet to return a phone call on the matter.

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen told WBOC Wednesday the Schwartz Center is important to the local economy and that he hopes the colleges come through with the funding.

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