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Dayton funk museum closing, but director says ‘we are not finished’  

Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 @ 5:53 PM

The Funk Museum and Exhibition Center is now open. Video by Amelia Robinson

A museum that symbolizes one of Dayton’s most prized claims to fame is closing. 

But Funk Music Hall of Fame and Exhibition Center officials said Tuesday it is not the end the journey to preserve a chunk of Dayton history. 

“It is a blip in the road, but there is enough momentum behind us that we are going to get the museum going,” said Jayne Klose, a Funk Center board member and Community Engagement Manager for the Dayton Metro Library. 

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The long-anticipated Funk Center opened at 113 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton’s Fire Blocks District in December 2017 and celebrated its grand opening early in 2018. 

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Earlier this month, David Webb, the center’s CEO and founder, said representatives from Fire Blocks developer Windsor Companies asked him to move funk center artifacts from the space so they would not be damaged during construction. 

Windsor then proposed the museum pay $1,400 a month for the space going forward, Webb said. 

The Ellway Group, the district’s prior developer, had give the center use of the space free of charge, Webb said. 

A spokesperson for the Windsor Companies has been contacted, and this news organization is awaiting a response. 

 

“As a nonprofit, we can’t afford that,” Webb told this news organization. “We don’t have money like that. It (the center) is about educating our children and keeping that rich history alive.” 

The center will vacate the space by the end of the month, Webb said.

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Klose and Webb said they understand the economics of Windsor’s decision. 

After years of planning, the Funk Music Hall of Fame and Exhibition Center is finally open. The museum, located at 113 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton’s Fire Blocks District, had its grand opening from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16 at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton. TOM GILLIAM / STAFF(Tom Gilliam/Tom Gilliam)

“When the construction is done, they will have a market rate building, and they need a market rate tenant,” Klose said. “We don’t have the funds to do market rate rental downtown. That (paying $1,400) wasn’t an option for us.”

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Officials are now searching for a new home for the center designed to pay tribute to Dayton’s musical heritage. 

The funk music genre put Dayton on the map as the Land of the Funk in the 1970s and '80s, thanks to a stable of groups that included the Ohio Players, Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame, Zapp, Faze-O, Heatwave, Sun, Slave and Lakeside.

 

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“Now we hope to find our large permanent home,” Klose said. “We can use some community support, a community hero. There is still a lot of empty space downtown.”  

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The center received word in January that it was accepted on Ohio.org, the state’s tourism website.

It has drawn about 6,000 funk fans from as far away as England, Japan and Germany. 

A list of musicians that include members of the Steve Miller Band and George Thorogood and The Destroyers have visited the museum. 

Funk legend George Clinton was there in July before a show at Hollywood Gaming Dayton Raceway with Parliament Funkadelic.

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Officials says progress will continue. 

They plan to hold the center’s first induction dinner at the Schuster Center on Feb. 29, 2020. 

Webb said the intention was always to expand the funk center. 

After years of planning, the Funk Music Hall of Fame and Exhibition Center is finally open. The museum, located at 113 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton’s Fire Blocks District, had its grand opening from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16 at the Dayton Metro Library, 215 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton. TOM GILLIAM / STAFF(Tom Gilliam/Tom Gilliam)

A fraction of the center’s 1,000 artifacts could be displayed in its 7,000-square-foot space, he said. 

Webb said the center’s ideal location would be much larger and have room for educational programs and master classes.  

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“I wish them well in what they do, and I get it,” he said of Windsor. “We just want to keep this going.”

He said he appreciates the support the funk center has received from the the library, which housed a funk center exhibition before the museum opened on Third Street, elected officials, Windsor and the Ellway Group before that. 

Webb said the funk center story will continue his work. 

“We are not going to let this end,” he said. “We are not finished.”