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Breaking Down Richmond CenterStage’s New Money Infusion

A new marquee and elevator repair on in the wish list, but the grant from Dominion won’t solve everything.


Despite recent awards of $5.5 million from the Dominion Foundation and $240,000 from city taxpayers, CenterStage may need more public dollars to thrive, spokesman Jay Smith says.

CenterStage announced the foundation’s gift last week. The theater complex plans to change its name to the Dominion Arts Center if City Council approves in January.

The foundation’s grant is a relief for city officials, who authorized a $1.75 million bailout last year to CenterStage’s subsidiary, the Richmond Performing Arts Center, for a delinquent property tax bill on the Carpenter and Altria theaters.

Arts center officials said they didn’t realize they’d be liable for real estate taxes on the buildings when they leased them. Legislation from the General Assembly since has eliminated the tax for the group.

Under contract, the city also supplements CenterStage operations by $500,000 annually, an amount scheduled to drop to $250,000 in 2019.

But Dominion’s grant won’t mean CenterStage no longer needs city money, Smith says, noting that the $5.5 million will be paid out over 15 years and can be used only for capital improvements.

“I’m unaware of this grant impacting any other need for funds from other donors or even the city,” he says, and fundraising for outreach and programming will continue.

C.T. Hill, a board member of the Richmond Performing Arts Center, says the first installment of $700,000 is scheduled to arrive in January with City Council’s expected name-change approval. After that, the grant will be paid in increments of $345,000.

Most of the first installment will go toward replacing the Carpenter Theatre’s broken marquee. Its digital display is malfunctioning and parts are no longer available from the manufacturer, Smith says.

About $40,000 will be used to repair an elevator in the theater.

CenterStage has no other major repairs on its list, Smith says, and pays $45,000 annually to continue warranties for items in the Carpenter Theatre. S

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