PEEKSKILL, NY – The board of the Paramount Center for the Arts is moving to dissolve its operations, officials announced today.
A petition was filed in state Supreme Court Friday and comes at a time when Peekskill officials are actively seeking proposals from new management teams. Peekskill city officials are hopeful that new theater operator will be in place for the theater by February.
The Paramount’s Board of Director’s announced the theater was temporarily closing its doors on Oct. 3 due to financial difficulties. In September, the Paramount held a fundraising campaign for $300,000 in order to make up for cuts in grants and other contributions, but raised less than 10 percent of its goal.
“The Board of Trustees and the dedicated staff did everything humanly possible to keep the marquee lit and the theater operational amid immense financial challenges,” said Vincent Vesce, president of the Paramount’s board of directors. “The Board wants to thank them, our sponsors, supporters, patrons and the community-at-large for their support of this most important institution over the last 30 years and for their understanding during this transition. This amazing performance venue should never be taken for granted in the future. Admire it, enjoy it, but most importantly, support it. As we have done throughout this process, we remain committed to helping the City reopen the Paramount as soon as possible.”
The 1,025-seat theater was built in 1930, during the Great Depression and was owned by the Paramount until it was sold to a private party in 1973. The City of Peekskill acquired the structure through a tax lien in 1977 and executed an agreement with the current board to lease, manage and operate the facility.
The theater is currently working with the city and the state Office of the Attorney General to come up with a plan to reimburse people who purchased tickets for shows scheduled after Oct. 3.
Anthony Quinn, the attorney representing the Paramount’s Board of Directors, said his clients ability to pay back ticket holders was hampered by the city’s decision to seek new management. Quinn said the board still has some assets inside the theater that it plans to liquidate and use to refund ticket payments.
Quinn said the city is also working with the board to on a solution for ticket refunds once a new management team is in place.
RFP Process Outlined
City officials plan to give a tour of the theater to prospective operators on Nov. 29.
James Slaughter, Peekskill’s economic development specialist, said the city will take a look at proposal from for-profit and nonprofit groups. The city will look to make a profit off the new lease agreement and new operators will be responsible for maintenance and utilities.
Operators will also be required to hold a minimum of 100 performances for each calendar year, including dance, plays and other live entertainment
It’s not clear how many of those performances will be allotted for community events and productions.
A lot of those discussions will be had as we meet with interested parties and see what they’re proposing,” Slaughter said.
Slaughter said a few dozen groups have already come forward and expressed interest in the proposal. A copy of the RFP can be seen in the PDF attached to this story.