Arts institute in limbo

Although claiming to have raised $60 million, the proposed Performing Arts Institute of North Carolina had only $1,897 at the of end of 2001, The Independent Weekly reported in its Aug. 29 edition.

Backers of the institute, based on an idea by the late Terry Sanford, a former governor, U.S. senator and president of Duke University, have promised the state they will raise $230 million privately before January 2006, the newspaper said.

But the group consistently has missed deadlines for filing financial reports on its fundraising, and the state has failed to enforce them, it said.

Federal tax forms “suggest a project in financial free-fall,” the Independent said, “a consistent, four-year downward spiral in charitable contributions from $138,000 in 1998, after the idea was first announced, to just over $9,500 last year.”

The institute has not launched a major fundraising drive or hired an executive director, and no major donor has declared support, the Independent said, and institute spokesman Tom Drew, president of Durham-based Phoenix Communications says he doubts the project can raise $230 million before January 2006.

The state made that promise in return for a five-year lease on 68 acres in West Raleigh that former Gov. Jim Hunt signed just before he left office, the Independent said.

Drew, who says Sanford in the last months of his life secured commitments from 30 wealthy friends who agreed to contribute $2 million each, now says the project may require state funds, the Independent said.

Our feeling on the thing is that, and it’s just an instinct, is that the state will not close down a project that has attracted over $100 million in private funds,” Drew told the newspaper.

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