Pact reached on state aid for Valentine

By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau

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COLUMBUS — The Valentine Theatre has cleared the last hurdle to put its renovation for bid, theater backers say.

Attorneys for the Ohio Arts and Sports Facilities Commission yesterday reached an “agreement in principle” with Toledo Cultural Arts Center, Inc., on what its chairman called the final point of contention in the group’s quest for state funding.

“This was the last outstanding issue,” Carroll Ashley, arts center chairman, said.

The renovation, which is the centerpiece of Toledo’s efforts to revitalize downtown, will go up for bid around Oct. 15, he said. Construction contracts must be approved by the commission before $15 million in state money is released for the project.

At issue yesterday was how much of the return from the theater’s $5 million endowment will be put toward the Valentine’s operating expenses each year.

The state had requested that part of its agreement with theater backers require them to put 6 per cent of the endowment, or about $300,000, toward annual operations.

Mr. Ashley said he opposed the requirement because it did not take into account fluctuations in the economy, which could affect the endowment’s earning potential.

“I’m sure that most years, we’ll be able to put 6 per cent of the earnings into operations, but some years, we might not,” he said.

Mr. Ashley said the two sides have reached an agreement that does not include the fixed endowment spending requirement.

“In the endowment’s more profitable years, we’ll spend more to make up for any leaner years,” he said.

Jennifer Detwiler, a state attorney general’s office spokesman, confirmed that an agreement in concept has been reached, but she did not give details.

State attorneys will meet with representatives of the Ohio Arts and Sports Facilities Commission tomorrow to iron out the language of the agreement, she said.

The General Assembly has committed $15 million to the renovation of the 102-year-old theater at 409 North St. Clair St. The theater hosted productions featuring luminaries such as Sarah Bernhardt before closing in 1976.