Peekskill officials and Paramount board members are firming up their plans for the city’s defunct performing arts center in the next few days.
Vinnie Vesce, board president for the Performing Center for the Arts, said the Peekskill Common Council’s announcement that it is seeking proposals for new management at the Paramount caught him off-guard. Vesce said the board is now scrambling to come up with a plan for the future.
“We were under the impression that we were working with the city in a cooperative manner to reopen as quickly as possible,” Vesce said. “We were confident that we would have been able to address the liabilities at the Paramount Center for the Arts if this was done in cooperation with the city.”
The Paramount’s Board of Director’s announced that the theater was temporarily closing its doors temporarily 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.
“That was a real number and we were thoughtful in what our goals were,” Vesce said. “We felt $300,000 is what we needed to get us through the season and into next year. Unfortunately, we were only able to bring in less than 10 percent of what we were hoping to raise. That helped accelerate the need for us take the action we did.”
The Paramount had a deal in place to lease the building for one dollar a year through 2033, but there were certain requirements that needed to be kept in place in order for the agreement to stand.
“There’s a whole process that needs to be followed and we’re going to be consulting with our attorneys,” Vesce said. “We take our responsibilities seriously and we’re making sure that we respond in the correct manner required by the law.”
Common Council Member Kathleen Talbot said a draft request for proposal has already been made and that the common council plans to have it ready by next week.
“It is going to happen very quickly,” Talbot said. “We’re going to put this out there and look for interesting plans from a variety of people. We’re throwing out a wide net.”
Talbot said the city would look at nonprofit management models similar to the one that already exists, a for profit management model, or a hybrid that incorporates nonprofit and for profit mechanisms.
Talbot also said that it is unlikely that the Common Council will agree to a lease agreement similar to the one that is currently in place.
“I think we’re looking to make money going forward,” Talbot said. “The situation is different that it was back then. Money is tight.”
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