Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of the auditorium restoration of Sheas Performing Arts Center in Buffalo. The renovations include the repair and painting of the ceiling, walls and facades, and have returned the entire Center to its original colorful grandeur in time for hundreds of people to attend tonights annual Curtain Up festivities and for visitors to enjoy the rare and historic theatre for years to come.
This famed arts center is a tangible symbol of this regions resurgence, Governor Cuomo said. With projects like RiverBend, the Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus and a revitalized waterfront, the curtain is open on a brighter economic future in Western New York and having Sheas Performing Arts Center restored to its original grandeur is yet one more reason why Buffalo is on the move.
To complete the project, restoration experts performed minor repairs and painting of the molded plaster ceiling and dome, and resurfaced the proscenium arch, front wall, balcony underside, walls and chandeliers. The completion brings to a close a $2.4 million auditorium restoration. The $829,500 in funding for this final stage was provided by a $400,000 grant from the States Environmental Protection Fund, along with $365,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and $64,500 from the Sheas Annual Fund.
In total, more than $37 million has been invested in the restoration and expansion of Sheas Performing Arts Center since 1981, which has been provided by private donations, public grants and Sheas fundraising events. The architectural and design improvements, made by EverGreene Architectural Arts of New York City, is the final major project for the 1926 movie palace.
Sheas Performing Arts Center President and CEO Anthony C. Conte said, This is the last major restoration project at Sheas. I never imagined when I started here at Sheas in 2001 that we would be able to see our dreams for recreating this architectural gem come true. We now look forward to completing a few smaller jobs in time to celebrate the theatres 90th birthday in 2016.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, Buffalos theater district continues to be an integral part of life in our city and is a big part of the progress in Buffalo. I thank Governor Cuomo for his continued commitment to our city, in particular the Sheas Performing Arts Center Restoration Project a great complement to our investment of $550,000 to the historic theater over the past two years, including the replacement this year of a brand new set of brass doors.
Senator Tim Kennedy said, "Western New York's arts and cultural institutions, like Shea's Performing Arts Center, play a major role in our thriving tourism sector. Shea's puts Buffalo on the map as one of the most successful Broadway tour cities in the country. We are so grateful Governor Cuomo recognized the importance of this cultural gem and chose to invest significant resources into its restoration. The project will attract thousands of theater lovers to our city, spending money not only on shows, but also dining, lodging and after-show activities. I applaud all of the skilled artisans who worked on this project, creating a jewel to be treasured for generations to come."
Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, Buffalo has a vibrant theatre community and Sheas has always been at the center of this important economic driver, with more than 13,000 season ticket holders. It will be an exciting new theatre season; hundreds of people will look up to admire the extraordinary ceiling at Sheas. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his work on restoring the theatre to its original splendor. Now, this Western New York treasure will continue to be a draw for thousands of people across the state.
About Sheas Performing Arts Center
Shea's Performing Arts Center opened in 1926. It is modeled after European opera houses and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, and is one of the only remaining Tiffany designed theatres in the country. Originally an elaborate movie house, Sheas later became a place for live vaudeville shows and virtually every great name in American show business had performed on its stage. Today, Sheas Performing Arts Center operates as a full-service performing arts center with over 250,000 patrons annually and presents the widest variety of performing arts in the region, including touring Broadway musicals, concert artists, family shows, comedy, education programming, local school presentations, historic tours, special events and a free family film series.
Sheas Performing Arts Center photos credit: Jim Bush