Park Playhouse is slated to take over management of the historic Cohoes Music Hall starting Aug. 1.
“It is our goal to bring a variety of entertainment to the stage while making the theater accessible for everyone in the community,” said Owen Smith, producing artistic director of Park Playhouse.
The contract with the Music Hall's former management company, Music Hall Arts Alliance, was canceled earlier this year due to budgetary constraints caused by COVID-19. Proposals from several other local management companies, including the Arts Alliance, Guthrie Bell Productions, Park Playhouse and others were submitted, and Park Playhouse's bid was accepted last week.
“Through this agreement, we are able to save Cohoes taxpayers around a quarter of a million dollars annually while sustaining the arts and the vibrancy of our business district,” said Cohoes Mayor Bill Keeler in a statement. “This implements a business model that is fiscally prudent for the City of Cohoes for years to come, thus assuring the viability of the Music Hall over the long term.”
According to a release from the city, it paid out $280,500 in Music Hall management costs in 2019 and received $90,326 in revenue.
Under the current agreement with Park Playhouse’s Playhouse Stage Company, the city will not pay for management and will receive $2 per ticket sold. It will continue to provide utilities and maintenance for the building, which dates to 1874. The contract will be presented to the Cohoes Common Council on Tuesday.
According to Smith, the agreement works well for the theater company because it no longer has to pay rent to put on shows at the Music Hall, making each theatrical production it presents more profitable. Beyond that, the company can also collect revenue from concessions and box-office fees.
While Park Playhouse will continue to present its musicals and plays, Smith said it will also present stand-up comedy, musicians and other performances the Music Hall has brought to the stage over the past few years.
“We don’t see ourselves expanding our own shows too much. We feel pretty good about doing six to seven shows a year in the hall at various times. ... We intend to continue with live music [and] with stand-up comedy. We have connections to promoters in the region who will rent the hall to bring in different bands and sell tickets. We have intentions in our own right of booking artists. We’ve never had a venue where we could really do that, and now we do,” Smith said.
At a time when the future of live performances is unclear, and it’s uncertain when most bands and entertainers will begin touring again, Park Playhouse can be nimble with its scheduling because it’s not dependent on outside performing artists.
“We’re not just a presenter, we’re not just a concert promoter. We produce our own shows in-house. ... We know that we have the ability and opportunity to get shows up on that stage right away,” Smith said.
Park Playhouse hopes to present shows in the fall, though it’s still looking at guidelines from New York state and may have to wait until 2021.
For schedule updates and information, visit thecohoesmusichall.org.