ITHACA, N.Y.—To fight continued COVID-19-related financial struggles, the State Theatre has joined with 12 other “historic performing arts centers” across the state with the goal of getting more public money from New York State to aid their operations.

The group of theaters, calling themselves Alive Downtowns!, is asking for an “ongoing $20 million in operating support from the state” according to a press release announcing the move.

The effort is reminiscent of other theatre collectives that have joined together in the last few years to push for help from the state government, though that movement was to ask for then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow independent movie theaters to reopen in 2020. The local arts community has been hurting recently, highlighted last month when no arts organizations received funding from the Tompkins Community Recovery Fund.

“Their goal is to encourage New York lawmakers to think of the upstate historic theatres as they do zoos and aquariums and public television statewide—organizations that have great public benefit to the citizens of the state,” according to the release. “Upstate New York’s historic theaters are essential to our cities’ continuing attractiveness, urban education opportunities and economic viability.”

The group includes theatres in Poughkeepsie, Elmira, Albany, Schenectady, Utica, Buffalo and more. The release claims that the aggregate budgets of the theaters exceed $100 million and their economic impacts on their respective surrounding downtowns exceed $350 million overall.

“The COVID-19 shutdown impacted the performing arts industry for nearly two years,” Doug Levine, Executive Director of the State Theatre of Ithaca commented. “We have done everything we could do to keep our doors open but still need additional support. It’s important to see the real financial impact the arts has on all of these upstate economies and to consider what our communities would look like if historic theatres like The State were no longer around.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com