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Local performing venues await green light to reopen

CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) - The Times Union Center is the only venue in the region that is able to open their doors at 10% capacity.

Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo gave the green light for sports arenas, stadiums and large venues to open by February 23rd at 10% capacity if the venue holds 10,000 seats. All guests will be required to test negative for COVID-19 three days before the event. However, many local theaters and venues don’t meet that criteria.

The Troy Savings Music Hall has been closed for nearly 11 months, and it looks like their doors will be closed for a little while longer. “For us and for all of the venues in New York State, it’s been a really tough situation,” says Jon Elbaum, Executive Director of Troy Savings Music Hall. The Music Hall has been operating for 145 years, until they had to close last March.

The Palace Theater in Albany has also been closed since mid March. For these smaller local theaters, there is still no clear answer from the state as to when they can have performers on the stage and people in the seats.

Local performing venues are holding onto hope. "It’s exciting, to be even moving in that direction — we’ve been waiting for so long,” says Danny Taylor, Palace Theatre Acting General Manager.

Jon Elbaum says although he appreciates the governor’s new guidelines, truthfully, the limited capacity doesn’t really help the local theatre businesses. “There needs to be programming that we can put on the stage. That’s driven by national and international factors, not just local factors," says Elbaum.

In order to reopen, local performing art officials agree it needs to be done safely and collectively. “SPAC, Proctor, The Palace and Cohoes, we’re all on weekly or bi weekly calls to compare notes and talk about what’s going on. There has been some effort to communicate with the state government to find out what the parameters are going to be and we don’t know what they’re going to decide,” says Elbaum.

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center doesn’t meet the governor’s criteria either. The amphitheater approximately seats 5,200 people. SPAC officials don’t have a set date as to when they can reopen.

“Though the new guidelines for arenas and stadiums do not currently pertain to SPAC, we are thankful for Governor Cuomo’s commitment to bringing back the arts in a safe and smart way. He recognizes the tremendous value of the arts in our state and today’s action is another step in reopening New York’s economy.  We look forward to working with his administration as reopening continues so we can once again welcome audiences back to SPAC in 2021 in accordance with all applicable health and safety protocols.”

Elizabeth Sobol, SPAC President & CEO

Even with the doors closed, all say it's a great feeling to be on the road back to normalcy. “[Getting] some type of normalcy back, where we can get back to work and people coming out to have a good time…that is the most important thing and it’s our goal for the year actually. Hopefully we can put things together and get back on the right foot as soon as we’re allowed to open up again,” says Danny Taylor.

In the meantime, local preforming art venues are using their social media to live stream, host virtual performances, and community with their audience.

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