The Smiths’ $22 million ‘expires’

The Daily Progress is reporting this morning that one of UVA's biggest-ever pledges has expired, throwing the prospect of a 1,200-seat concert hall on Emmet Street into turmoil.

The 2003 pledge of Carl and Hunter Smith to donate $22 million would have also created a black box theater, instructional spaces, and would have housed the marching band, which the Smiths launched through a separate $1.5 million gift.

The Smiths are perhaps best known for kicking off the $100 million rehab of Scott Stadium with a gift of $23 million. Carl Smith, a coal tycoon and UVA football star in his own right, died in December, 2005.

UVA spokesperson Carol Wood, who heralded the Smiths' pledge four years ago as a "gift to the Charlottesville-Albemarle community," says in the Progress story that Mrs. Smith is still a "leader" in the effort to create an arts gateway to the university but that this particular gift, since construction did not begin by a deadline, has "lapsed."

Perhaps one problem with the theater concept is competiton from the new venue explosion. Charlottesville has gone performance space crazy in the past five years. Let us count the ways:

¯¿œ PVCC's V. Earl Dickinson Theater
¯¿œ Gravity Lounge
¯¿œ Live Arts
¯¿œ Paramount Theater
¯¿œ Charlottesville Pavilion
¯¿œ John Paul Jones Arena
¯¿œ Jefferson Theater (under renovation)

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3 comments

22M is a drop in the bucket for the U. After all, they have no problem paying 1M for old houses they want to tear down.

Could C-Ville really support a true theater? Would any real shows venture down here? Give me a holler when Seinfeld and Spamalot roll in to town.

Come on, Hook - that's one pathetic piece of reporting. Your blog entry implies that the theater project is dead, and the Smiths' money is lost. Not true, and possibly not true. From the article you refer to but didn't link to:

"But UVa officials are ready to move forward with a site plan for what's being called the Gateway to the Arts, a project that could transform the university's northern entrance along Emmet Street."

and

"University spokeswoman Carol Wood said Hunter Smith is still ââ?¬Å?very much involved” in the arts center project, and that she's ââ?¬Å?indicated her openness to considering the new proposal.” She said Smith remains a ââ?¬Å?leader in the discussion.”"

a

...and

"Casteen told a Board of Visitors committee last week that conversations are ongoing with a group of New York donors to possibly fund a concert hall within the Gateway to the Arts project.

The project is also expected to involve a significant amount of borrowing - $58 million worth."

The gift lapsed because the university didn't break ground in time. They want to get it right - the money will be there.