Paramount RFP Creates Excitement, Questions

News that the City of Peekskill is seeking out proposals for the Paramount has local theater managers excited.


Local theaters in the Hudson Valley are eagerly awaiting the City of Peekskill’s RFP for a new management team at the Paramount Center for Performance Arts.

Still, that excitement will remain tempered until more details about the theater’s financial standing are revealed.

The city owns the theater and leases it out to Paramount’s board of directors, but does not manage the building's day-to day operations. The Peekskill Common Council announced it was seeking proposals during Monday's meeting. The Paramount's board of director's announced the theater is temporarily closing for financial reasons on Oct. 3. 

“We would have to consider the RFP,” Bjorn Olsson, executive director of the 843-seat Tarrytown Music Hall. “We think the Paramount should be a viable stage in Westchester and we would definitely consider putting in a proposal. A lot of it depends on what details come out of the RFP. We don’t know what they’re looking for yet.”

Olsson said the Tarrytown Music Hall has been able to grow despite the recession and he believes the same thing can happen in Peekskill.

“We’re on such a different track,” Olsson said. “We’ve been growing 10 to 30 percent each year. It’s possible that we could grow even more if the recession had not been there, but we haven’t really slowed down. What we found here is a good balance between being there for the community and bringing in big artists. We would try to apply what we learned here in Peekskill.”

Chris Silva, executive director of the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie and the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston, said he received a friendly phone call from a Peekskill official asking if he would be interested in submitting a proposal to manage the Paramount a few weeks ago.

Silva said he finished the phone call with a number of unanswered questions.

“We’ve taken over organizations like the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and the UPAC, but those were different situations," Silva said. "The Paramount is a different world. It’s in Westchester. It’s not just across the river from us like the UPAC. But more importantly, we need to know more information like what happened before it closed. What’s going on over there?”

Lisa Reilly, executive director the 275-seat Emelin Theater, said the situation with the Paramount is being followed closely throughout the county.

“I think everybody in the cultural community wants to see the Paramount succeed and we’re willing to whatever we can that is in our power to make that happen,” Reilly said.

Peter Goodson October 24, 2012 at 10:10 PM
If Foster and Klaxton have anything to do with this process then kiss it all goodbye. They screw up everything they touch.
john basic October 24, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Have the current board of directors officially been dismissed by the City of Peekskill? I would hope so.
joshua tanner October 25, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Well the city had all the locks changed and is calling for new oversight. I wonder if the crew running the city would have been this strong if the board president wasn't a former GOP Mayor who criticized Foster last election
Walden Macnair October 25, 2012 at 12:18 PM
This is just more proof that the government shouldn't run private enterprises. Theaters, golf courses, amusement parks can all be done better by industries that do that as a business. Run the theater at a profit and pay the city for the franchise. I've never run a theater but I do know one thing. If your ticket sales do not exceed your expenses you will lose money. Sounds simple to me.
Patty Villanova October 25, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Finally- they're bringing in some outside professionals who actually know what they're doing and who have experience in theater management. Like most of what happens in the morass of city government, this is long overdue.. Like I said previously, the remaining business owners and restaurants are going to take a big hit this Holiday season if the Paramount is dark which is most likely. The mismanagement of the Paramount for at least the last 10 years, by the non-profit and its board of directors has been responsible in large part for the weak economic development of Downtown Peekskill. The Paramount is the anchor store of the mall to use an analogy and it was mostly closed and not being used to its potential. The various directors tried, especially Jon Yanofsky who brought in some of the finest jazz performers, but they could never overcome the problems with the directors who were clueless. There needs to be an outside forensic investigation of the board and a full report to the community. The Paramount was getting financial support from neighboring communities as well as other tax dollars from outside Peekskill. Vesce & Co. are accountable to all of us and I am watching with great interest to see how Foster, Klaxton, et al handle this disgraceful situation.
NorthCountyHound October 25, 2012 at 01:33 PM
If they were able to attract some decent acts instead of has beens and wanna bes and it wasn't where it is, they could do well. Peekskill is a nasty dump. Who want's to sit there worrying about their car outside. I only go there when I absolutley have to and never without a weapon.
Ray Adamick October 25, 2012 at 06:15 PM
I thought it had landmark Status??
Ray Adamick October 25, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Stay home North, we don't need you!
john basic October 25, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Peekskill is fine overall with many fine restaurants. If you want to walk around the streets at 2am then you may have a point North. Otherwise just relax and come to Peekskill and have a nice dinner sometimes.
Ray Adamick October 25, 2012 at 09:39 PM
You tell 'em John
JM October 25, 2012 at 10:39 PM
In all the discussions on this great building, which if I had the money I'd submit an RFP myself and launch a new career, no one seems to ask: who is the audience and what do ''we'' (within acceptable travel distance) want/expect/desire of the space. I've only lived in Peekskill four years, but no one has ever approached me on this topic. I've never been mailed a survey from the theater, which gets to perhaps the most important issue of all -- what would attract me to pay money and attend an event? Have seen several suggestions about following the Jacob Burns model, where I've been once. Now, when all is said and done, dragging oneself 20 miles vs. having a drink at home, relaxing and putting on just about the same film here at home as Jacob Burns would show, free, makes the decision simple as eating your favorite pie. Nonetheless, what if the Paramount did had a similar venue as Pleasantville? Foreign and emerging films, followed by the director's conversation, for example. No doubt I'd go, since it's two minutes away, no sweat. But no one asked for my input. Lastly, and a p.s. to northcountyhound, since I pay $11K a year in property taxes to own a house in Peeksill, I disagree most strongly that we live in a dump. Yes, there are issues, as with all cities, but I like it here -- or I wouldn't live here. So do stay home, please. We don't need bad energy.
ED HICKEY October 26, 2012 at 11:35 AM
I second Josh's sentiment; exciting news.
NorthCountyHound October 26, 2012 at 01:18 PM
most of which will go out of biz w/o the paramount.


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