Panel looks to re-open Schwartz Center

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen is establishing a panel to explore ways to reopen the Schwartz Center for the Arts in hopes that it can be a key to revitalizing downtown.

Locals view the center as a building that holds history and tradition but is also a way for locals to have a platform to showcase their talents.

Dover High School varsity basketball coach Stephen Wilson says not only did the center represent history and tradition in Dover, it gave local kids a platform to get recognition.

"It gives our kids a chance to be able to be able to showcase their talent and it gives them the opportunity to be able to get on that panel instead having to move to the big cities and show that there is some talent in this little town here."

That opportunity is something Dover resident Carolyn Butler knows personally.  Her son is taking up acting, and without the Schwartz Center, she is forced to turn outside of town.

"My son is trying to do acting and everything and once they closed that down it was like, ok, where is the other acting things in Dover."

Christiansen says over the next three months the panel will look at ways to fund the Scwhartz Center, both in the short term and long term, the consensus being that bringing arts back to Dover is key.

"It's one of the major pieces of our downtown redevelopment and revitalization puzzle.  It's one of our anchors and it has great possibilities to bring in numbers of people into the downtown area."

Christiansen tells 47abc the panel was the brain child of both himself and Council President Tim Slavin.

One of the main ideas that has been discussed to fund the center would be to create a self-sustaining foundation to offset the costs of it's upkeep.

Currently those costs are being paid for by Wesley College and Delaware State University.

"I believe there has been a void, but I have to salute Wesley College and Delaware State University for doing ongoing maintenance to keep the building alive and making sure that it keeps that building going as a living entity."

The center closed down operations back in June because the overall revenue had not been enough to sustain business.

Christiansen says he hopes to see activity in the Schwartz center for the arts by Dover Days, a goal he considers very realistic.

Categories: Delaware, Local News