The following information was included in an email sent by PCA's Board President Vincent Vesce on Aug. 7, 2012. Read more about the history of the Paramount at the end of this posting.
Peekskill, NY (8/7/12) Sometimes success is not enough. In spite of record box office numbers and strategic spending cuts, it has become increasingly clear that the Paramount Center for the Arts, a hub of cultural activity in Peekskill, N.Y., will face an uncertain future without public support.
Like so many not-for-profit art centers, the venerable Paramount -- long recognized as a driving force for commerce as well as art throughout northern Westchester -- will have to develop new sources of income to offset cuts in private and public funding to the arts.
In an effort to balance its finances, the Paramount's governing board has taken steps to restructure management, cut costs and trim waste. A new management team led by Executive Director Lisa Reiss has also succeeded in attracting bigger box office names like Kenny Loggins, Glen Campbell, Foreigner and Amos Lee to offset community programs like the Arts in Education performances that attract thousands of area students but often require underwriting.
Despite greater success at the box office, more is needed. Faced with a fundraising goal of $300,000 (roughly the shortfall due to cuts in grants and other traditional sources of contributed income), the Paramount is launching a September fundraising campaign that will reach out to the 40,000 people on its mailing list, as well as current members and corporate sponsors. While taking full advantage of modern fund-raising tools, including an e-mail-based pledge drive, the campaign will emphasize the traditional: the deeply rooted, community-enhancing role that the historic Paramount has played throughout the region.
Unlike private pop-music venues, the Paramount is part of a vital network of institutions whose productions of cultural and artistic merit often supersede commercial viability. SF Jazz Collective was made possible because of the 2012 Mid Atlantic Jazz Touring Network grant program. "Fantastical Classical," a series opening Oct. 21, will be hosted by the radio celebrity Elliott Forrest (WQXR, WNYC) and feature world-renowned performers like Mark O'Connor, Sharon Isbin and the New Philharmonic Principal Brass Quintet.
Expanding its base and reaching out to Westchester's more affluent communities through this type of programming has been an important aspect of the Paramount's development strategy and has inspired fundraisers like the May 26th concert at "Cat Rock" in Garrison, which featured a private performance by virtuoso violinist Mark O'Connor. But in September, as the Paramount starts its crucial grassroots campaign, the theater's mission and future will be placed squarely in the hands of the people it serves. Their response will define local arts and cultural programming not only for the immediate community, but for much of northern Westchester and Putnam County, for decades to come.
About the Paramount Center for the Arts
The Paramount Center for the Arts, a nonprofit cultural organization is dedicated to the presentation of diverse, high-quality programming in live performance, arts-in-education, visual arts, and film. Contributions from foundations, corporations, government and individuals enable the Paramount to provide accessible and affordable cultural programming to over 63,000 people each year. The Paramount Center for the Arts is housed in beautifully restored historic, landmark movie palace built by the renowned architects George and Charles Rapp in 1930. Today, the building is a designated Westchester County Landmark and listed on the State and National Historic Registries.
The following is information first published in Lindsey Suchow's Patch article on Dec. 29, 2010,Paramount 'Has Something for Everybody'
The is a non-profit cultural organization and the Paramount theater building is owned by the city. The Paramount open in June, 1930 and was a center of action and entertainment until area competition diminished its popularity in the 1970s. The City of Peekskill acquired the building in 1977 and considered flattening it into a parking lot, but was stopped by community members determined to “Save the Paramount,” in the early 1980s. Former Peekskill Mayor and State Governor George Pataki was an influential force in the movement, helping the entity to be established as a nonprofit in 1982.
Since then PCA has had numerous executive directors and board members, all working to continue the center’s mission to serve as a center for the arts, collaborate with the community, book cultural acts and fill the house.
Read the full article on the history of the Paramount .
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