Historic upstate theaters seek dedicated funding from New York State lawmakers (The Buffalo News)

Mark Sommer - The Buffalo News

Originally published in The Buffalo News

Photo Credit: Derek Gee/The Buffalo News

Historic theaters in Upstate New York add cultural vitality to downtowns and boost local businesses, but because they are large and around a century old, they're costly to maintain.

A state budget request would reduce the theaters' economic burden and help ensure their viability through annual, dedicated funding.

Thanks to an extensive, $386,550 restoration, now in the third of seven phases, the Wurlitzer is expected to be concert-ready for the theater's 100th anniversary celebration in January 2026.

The state does that for aquariums, zoos and botanical gardens, and a coalition of 13 upstate theaters from Jamestown to Poughkeepsie – including Shea's Buffalo Theatre – hopes to join them.

"Because these theaters are historic, their upkeep's pretty high," said Sen. Sean Ryan, who has signed onto the budget request in the Senate with sponsor Sen. Jeremy Cooney of Rochester. "We want to start this fund to help them defray those costs, so they can use more of their money to bring programming to communities."

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