Lockport theatre feels the arts are being left out of reopening plans


LOCKPORT N.Y. (WIVB) – As businesses continue reopening across the state, a performing theater in Lockport says the arts are being left out of those plans. During a show, the Palace Theatre usually draws in thousands of people, but that hasn’t happened in more than five months and the workers are getting frustrated because they don’t know when that will happen again.

“It’s very difficult because everything is unknown. So it’s very hard to plan when you don’t know if you can have 200 people in the building, 400 people in the building or 50 people in the building,” said Board of Directors President Ellen Schratz. “Makes a big difference to how you would organize the seating, the people getting in and out. It’s tricky.”

The Palace Theatre closed its doors in March, right before the peak of the performing season.

“It’s been kinda crazy here. You know, we shut down in March per the orders that we had with the state and we’re just waiting guidance,” said executive director Chris Parada. “We haven’t had anything since March so we just need to have some information of what’s going on.”

Parada says the worst part is that they have no idea when they can reopen or what reopening will look like.

“Does everyone have to wear a mask? Do the performers have to wear a mask? Does the orchestra have to wear a mask? Do we have to be six feet apart? Do the actors have to be six feet apart on stage, and in the dressing rooms? We just don’t have any of that information to go forward and start designing and producing these shows,” he said.

As more businesses get the OK to reopen, the Palace Theatre has no choice but to wait.

“The arts are definitely left out,” Parada said.

“I understand there’s a lot of other things going on. I know kids going back to school is important. Gyms opening, everything opening is important, but so are we,” Schratz said.

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, movie theaters and performing theaters pose a high risk.

While those businesses wait for guidance from the state on if and when they can reopen, crews are staying busy renovating.

“We had planned to do so much more but without the income of the shows, ticket sales, that kinda stuff it really, really put a damper on our business,” Parada said.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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