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Council releases Citi Center grant

Email|Print| Text size + By Geoff Edgers
Globe Staff / January 18, 2008

The Massachusetts Cultural Council voted this week to release a $60,400 grant to the Citi Performing Arts Center that had been tabled last year after questions were raised about the Citi Center's cutbacks to its free Shakespeare on the Common program and its decision to pay a $1.2 million bonus to its president and chief operating officer, Josiah Spaulding Jr., despite the organization's financial struggles.

Anita Walker, the MCC's executive director, said that the grant was freed up after the Citi Center presented additional information to the agency, including the results of a recent audit of its financial books and an outline of programs it hoped to present this year.

"I would say that at the moment, we feel the Citi Center meets the guidelines of our program, is qualified to receive those funds, and it's appropriate that we release those funds at this time," said Walker.

On Jan. 25, a separate state panel will decide whether to give the Citi Center (formerly the Wang Center for the Performing Arts) $600,000 from the state's Cultural Facilities Fund. That allocation, initially recommended by the MCC, had also been tabled.

In December, the attorney general's office completed an inquiry of the Citi Center, stating that while there were a few "weaknesses and lapses" in the organization's procedures, the Citi Center's establishment of Spaulding's compensation was "generally consistent with what we would expect of our public charities."

Walker said that the report carried weight with the MCC.

"It was important," she said. "We decided to wait until there was a report out of the attorney general's office before we moved forward on this."

Notes

"Adrift in Macao" creators Christopher Durang and Peter Melnick will perform a little music together at the Lyric Stage Company's pre-performance cocktail party tonight at 6:30. Tickets: $50. Then tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., Durang and Melnick will discuss their collaborative process in a conversation titled "Humor Meets Style: The Making of a Film Noir Comedy." Admission is free; tickets to the 4 p.m. performance are sold separately. 617-585-5678, lyricstage.com. . . . New Repertory Theatre has lined up an impressive group of actors for its third annual New Voices staged reading series. On Jan. 28, Marianna Bassham will star in "Body Politic" by Jessica Goldberg, followed by Johnny Lee Davenport and Dee Nelson in "Unbleached" by Michael Aman (Feb. 11) and Rachel Harker and Bates Wilder in "The Oil Thief" by Joyce Van Dyke (Feb. 25). Admission is free; $10 donation suggested. 617-923-8487, newrep.org

Globe Correspondent Terry Byrne contributed to this report.

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