The Overture Center's endowment fund lost roughly $1.5 million during the last two weeks of February, according to figures released Tuesday by Madison Comptroller Dean Brasser.

Records show the endowment having a balance of about $106.4 million in the middle of February, and that amount dropped to $104.9 million by the end of the month.

Dana Chabot, treasurer for the Madison Cultural Arts District, said this drop is in part a reflection of the recent drop in the stock market, as about 30 percent of the center's endowment is invested in the market.

"The last week in February wasn't particularly kind, so it reflects a market decline," Chabot said.

The center refinanced its loans in 2005, a decision Mayor Dave Cieslewicz did not support. Part of the refinancing plan includes a provision stating that, if the endowment drops below $104 million, the center itself will receive less money from the fund.

"[The mayor] didn't support refinancing when it came up, but it is in place now, and he hopes it's successful," said George Twigg, spokesperson for Cieslewicz. "It remains to be seen whether it achieves the purpose it was established for."

Twigg also said it is not uncommon for the endowment account to fluctuate, even large amounts in the short term. What is most important, he said, is long-term performance.

The Overture Center was built in part with a $205 million donation from Jerome Frautschi, a local businessman. The city of Madison is providing the Overture Center with more than $1.6 million in funding for the 2007 fiscal year.

Chabot said that, though no plans have been created to increase ticket cost, the center might begin other money-making efforts.

"Increasing the endowment might mean trying to do fundraising in order to add to the money that Jerry Frautschi originally put in," Chabot said.

The center's construction was officially completed in fall 2006, and now houses the Capitol Theater, the Madison Museum of Modern Art and four other art galleries.

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