ITHACA, N.Y.—The State Theatre of Ithaca has reached its fundraising goal for the “Save Your Seat” campaign, with 1,600 seats sold since Nov. 10.

The campaign was started to help mitigate some of the budget concerns that came with the coronavirus shutdown and its impact on large events and gatherings, which make up the vast majority of the theatre’s yearly revenue. All live events at the theatre have been postponed since mid-March.

Essentially, seats could be bought and “saved” for $100, with a personalized plaque being attached to the seat that they purchased in their honor. To help close a $160,000 budget deficit, the theatre launched its effort to sell the 1,600 seats and reached their goal in under two months.

“We are absolutely blown away by all of the love and support that we have received,” said Executive Director Doug Levine. “Before launching the Save Your Seat campaign, we were having serious discussions with our Board and Finance Committee about closing down, or at the very least, making more cuts to an already skeleton crew.  It is both astounding and heartwarming to know that we were able to hit our goal of $160,000 raised in under 8 weeks.  Not only will we be adding a plaque on every seat in our building but we will also be able to keep our core staff members employed, at least through the end of our fiscal year.  With additional federal assistance, we hope to keep all of our employees on board, and knock out some additional building projects, until it is time for us to safely re-open to the public.”

Development Committee Chair Katie Foley said the funding would be crucial in assisting the State Theatre remain afloat, particularly given the yearly crush of attracting $400,000 in “grants, donations and sponsorships” to remain financially stable.

The theater’s announcement also credited Tompkins Trust Company for its donation, as the local bank sponsored the first two rows of the downstairs orchestra section. Other companies that bought rows included: B&W Supply, Cayuga Radio Group, CFCU Community Credit Union, Greenscene Lawn & Garden, Ithaca Asthma & Allergy Associates, Ithaca Guitar Works, Sciarabba Walker & Company, STREAM Collective, and Travis Hyde Properties, as well as several more that bought seats on behalf of their companies.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com