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Museum eyes D.C. gala site page 2
Site of postponed New York City event not free, as slavery museum official had expected.

Date published: 2/14/2006


Yesterday, Smith said he hoped to have a site soon to give people time to plan. He said he hoped a Washington site would have a greater seating capacity. The Allen Room at the Lincoln Center has a maximum capacity of 540, a spokeswoman there said.

Last week, Smith told reporters he expected 350 to 400 people at Vereen's benefit performance and that tickets were being sold for $250 and $500. Vereen is doing the same performance--a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.--at the Kennedy Center this Thursday through Saturday, with tickets ranging from $20 to $80.

At least some of the people who were planning to attend this Sunday's event got a little more than a week's notice of the cancellation.

Fredericksburg Councilman Hashmel Turner Jr. said he learned of the change last week, in time to adjust his schedule. City Councilwoman Debby Girvan, who also planned to attend, said she got a message over the weekend.

Mayor Tom Tomzak said he had not planned to attend because he was scheduled to be on call at his medical practice. If the gala is held in Washington in June, he said he would like to attend.

Yesterday, Smith said most of the people who had planned to attend Sunday's gala were from Washington or Virginia so it makes more sense to hold the event in Washington.

Smith cut short questions about the change in plans and referred them to museum Executive Director Vonita W. Foster. A worker in the museum office told The Free Lance-Star to contact Matt Langan, who she said "is now handling [the museum's] account."

Calls to Langan were not returned yesterday afternoon.

The museum is to be built on 38 acres within the Celebrate Virginia development in Fredericksburg, along Interstate 95.

Last week, museum founder L. Douglas Wilder held a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington to update the facility's progress and to make a public plea for corporate donations. Wilder said last week that the museum has raised $50 million in cash and pledges, about half the estimated cost of construction.

Wilder said the museum would open to some degree next year but it was unlikely to be finished by the end of 2007.

To reach PAMELA GOULD: 540/735-1972
Email: pgould@freelancestar.com

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