In 2001 and 2002, Ray Charles made two donations totaling $3 million to Albany State University to build a performing arts center in his name. The school has yet to follow through on completing their end of the arrangement and now the late musician’s organization, The Ray Charles Foundation, is asking for that money to be returned. The group is arguing that Charles was very specific about how he wanted the money to be spent when he gifted it and as of now, the project seems to only exist “on the drawing board and in an unapproved downsized plan,” according to a statement from the foundation.
The university, however, is insisting that Charles’s donation was never restricted and that they’re continuing to search for additional funding for the building, which is estimated to cost at least $23 million to get up and running. “It has been a long and tedious process, but strides have been made in accomplishing this goal,” said the school’s spokesman Demetrius Love in an email statement. “Albany State University will continue in its efforts of honoring Mr. Ray Charles by constructing a fine arts building in his name.” He says plans have been burdened in recent years by increased budget cuts and a lack of state funding.