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Madison, Wisc. Lands $50M for New Arts District

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The city of Madison, Wisconsin has been promised $50 million for the construction of a new arts district in its downtown area. Its benefactor is the Overture Foundation, a philanthropic group whose chairman happens to have a history of cultural involvement with the city.

"I love Madison. My family has been here for 130 years. Where I see I can help, I like to. I feel the dream of building a cultural center can be accomplished," said W. Jerome Frautschi, the head of the grant-giving organization.

The foundation's decision to fund the city's arts district came on the heels of studies which indicated that Madison has the potential to be a rich cultural center, but has poor facilities in which to present its vibrant visual and performing arts community.

Said Madison Mayor Sue Bauman, "It's wonderful. It is probably an opportunity that's unequaled anywhere in the country."

The new arts district will include performance, rehearsal, administration, exhibition, and storage space for local arts groups. The money is intended not for the operating expenses of any arts organization, but solely for the purpose of building new venues, theoretically allowing existing companies to focus more on programming.

Preliminary plans include the construction of a 500-to-700-seat theatre. There is no official word on when the project is expected to break ground, much less be completed.

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