There's something curiously missing from this story on Chicago's Mantu Dance Company
. It may be the only time the company has made big news without a mention of Barack and Michelle Obama in years.
One can only imagine the headlines were it so closely linked to a Republican President.
Illinois officials are taking a closer look at a nonprofit dance company that was awarded a $4.5 million state grant in 2003 for a planned performing arts center on the South Side that has yet to begin construction.
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity spokeswoman Marcelyn Love, whose department hands out millions in grant money every year to arts and culture organizations, said the Muntu Dance Theater Co. of Chicago will be placed on "strict oversight" as they move forward with long-delayed plansto build an arts center at 47th Street and Greenwood Avenue in the city's Kenwood neighborhood.
At issue is a 6 million dollar, if not more, vacant lot in Chicago
A circular concrete barrier behind a tattered chain-link fence at the corner of 47th Street and Greenwood Avenue in the Kenwood neighborhood is all there is to show for once-ambitious plans to remake a struggling business corridor into a hub for African-American arts and culture.
Eight years ago, the nonprofit Muntu Dance Theatre secured more than $6 million in city and state grants, rights to the two-acre property for $1, and cash donations from the likes of ComEd and Boeing to build a $15 million performing arts center.
At the time, the project came with the blessings of local leaderswho hoped to not only turn around the fortunes of an area littered with liquor stores and boarded-up buildings, but help restore a piece of Bronzeville's historic luster.
It's interesting to note that Michelle Obama appears to now have enough time to plan school lunches for every child in America, yet, despite sitting on Mantu's board for years
didn't seem to be able to find time to provide the least bit of oversight that may have prevented this problem. And that's not all.
First Lady Michelle Obama served on Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago’s board prior to leaving the windy city.
Based upon financial disclosures in 2006
, it was one of only four entities to which the Obamas gave money - five-thousand dollars to be exact. One has to wonder just how instrumental were the Obama's in assisting the dance company in raising so much cash that seems to have been so poorly applied. That's assuming it hasn't simply disappeared, of course.
She even chaired their anniversary gala in 2007
. But then, what's $15 million dollars and a vacant lot in Chicago when one is busy tending the White House garden, or attempting to dictate what every American school child can, or can not eat? One can only imagine the play this story would have gotten had it been a Texas dance company linked so closely to George and Laura Bush.
Michelle Obama to chair Muntu Dance Theatre's 35th anniversary gala