One day before Buffalo's Theatre District was set to celebrate its 2017-18 season, State Senator Chris Jacobs was inside one of the venues announcing that state money has been secured to help continue an ongoing capital improvement project.
Jacobs stood on stage inside Shea's 710 Theatre on Main Street. His audience was made up of board members, employees and invited guests who learned from the State Senator that $200,000 is secured in the state budget for the institution's ongoing renovations.
"I'm grateful that we're able to continue providing a wonderful Shea's experience," said Shea's president Michael Murphy. "We see what we have done at Shea's Buffalo Theatre and now we are able to continue improving our neighborhood with what we are doing in Shea's 710."
Shea's Performing Arts Center acquired the former Studio Arena Theatre space five years ago. Since then, the main lobby and lounge have been updated. Future work, which will be supported by the money announced Thursday morning, includes new lighting and sound systems within the theater itself, new seats and renovated spaces backstage to support the performers and producers.
Jacobs says the arts are important for the city's quality of life, attracting people to move and live downtown. It's also important for business and the economy, he added, citing a report by Americans for the Arts that measured local economic impact.
"The study confirms this, stating that $352 million in economic activity every year is generated by arts and culture," Jacobs said. "It supports 10,000 full-time jobs, $208 million dollars in household income and $40 million in local and state revenues."
Shea's 710 Theatre opened its 2017-18 season Thursday evening with the first scheduled performance of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, starring Loretta Swit and David Engel. Jacobs noted the timing of his announcement, which came one day before Buffalo's theater community welcomes a new season with its annual Curtain Up! celebration.