This Year's Week of Comedy Runs Through Sunday, August 6
Governor Tours National Comedy Center - Expected to Open in 2018
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a $500,000 I LOVE NEW YORK campaign to continue to boost Western New York's tourism industry by promoting the National Comedy Center and the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in 2018. The nationally-recognized festival draws nearly 13,000 visitors to the region and has more than 20 events taking place this week through Sunday, August 6. This year's festival features a number of comedy greats such as Lewis Black, Jim Gaffigan, Kevin James, Robert Klein, David Steinberg, W. Kamau Bell, Kelly Carlin and many others. The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, which is the first non-profit cultural institution and visitor experience dedicated to comedy, is expected to be completed in 2018.
"The National Comedy Center is quickly becoming a world-renowned cultural institution, while putting a spotlight on some of today's greatest performers - and with this week's Lucille Ball Festival, we welcome thousands of visitors to Jamestown to experience the fun and laughter that's in store," Governor Cuomo said. "By investing in comedy and the arts, New York has shown the nation that Jamestown is the place to visit with family and friends. I look forward to the completion of the National Comedy Center as it supports the creation of new jobs, fosters economic growth, and establishes Upstate New York as a topnotch cultural hub for generations to come."
The National Comedy Center is presenting a week of comedy performances and dialogues during its annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, and partnering with world-renowned Chautauqua Institution on a week titled "Comedy and the Human Condition," July 31 - August 6.
The $50 million National Comedy Center campus, which is located in comedic legend Lucille Ball's hometown, includes 37,000 square-feet of exhibit space. Construction of the project, which began when the Governor broke ground in August 2015, includes a new 6,000 square-foot building, the renovation of two historic buildings, and an exterior screening area which is adjacent to a Comedy Park. The project also involves renovating the historic Jamestown Gateway train station.
When it opens in 2018, the National Comedy Center is expected to draw 114,000 visitors annually, support 184 jobs, and infuse $23 million into the local economy.
The Comedy Center project is supported by $14 million in state funding, including $4.4 million from the Regional Economic Development Council and an additional $5 million through the Buffalo Billion ll initiative. The Center will be a major non-profit cultural institution offering year-round experiential and interactive exhibits and programming. It was Lucille Ball's vision to create a destination for comedic arts in her hometown of Jamestown, and in her memory, the center will offer educational programming to support aspiring artists.
"By investing in comedy and the arts, New York has shown the nation that Jamestown is the place to visit with family and friends."
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The National Comedy Center is a key component of Western New York's long-term tourism and economic development strategy. It is already receiving the support of comedy greats and national recognition for its innovative concept.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "The National Comedy Center will prove to be yet another economic force and more reason to visit Jamestown, a wonderful and charming retreat nestled in the western nook of New York State. In addition to the many laughs it will provide this facility will also create public green space and host outdoor activities including live performances that will serve a vital role in tourism, energize local economies and bring more smiles to so many faces. Thank you Governor Cuomo for your continued commitment in promoting and preserving these special destinations that make New York State a memorable place to live and visit."
National Comedy Center Chairman Tom Benson said, "We are extremely grateful to Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development for the incredible support that they have given to the National Comedy Center Project over the past three years. This support validated the project and made it a part of the long range economic development and tourism strategy of Western New York which provided the foundation that we needed to raise the remaining funds necessary to construct the Project."
Senator Cathy Young said, "Western New York has entered a major Renaissance because of the many state investments in jobs and projects that are stimulating a new economic vitality. Our hat is off to Governor Cuomo for his belief and commitment in us and our economic future. By working together, we are giving every New Yorker the opportunity to succeed."
Assemblyman Andy Goodell said, "Thank you to Governor Cuomo for his strong ongoing support to the National Comedy Center. The Comedy Center will be an incredible economic boost for the city of Jamestown and surrounding area. We are very appreciative of the support shown by Governor Cuomo in Chautauqua County."
Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan said, "Chautauqua County is clearly on the move thanks to significant NYS investments in our hospitality and tourism industry. The National Comedy Center in Jamestown will draw visitors from across the Nation to experience the very best in comedy and all that our County has to offer. Private investment in new hotels and attractions is growing every day as Chautauqua County becomes a premier destination for our WNY region."
Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi said, "As the birthplace of Lucille Ball - one of the greatest comedians in history, we are honored to welcome some of the greatest performers in the world to this annual festival as we celebrate the history of comedic art. I invite both residents and visitors to see the National Comedy Center for themselves, and thank the Governor for this critical investment, along with I Love New York, as we look forward to more families experiencing this festival in 2018."
In addition to the National Comedy Center project, Jamestown has also identified ten downtown projects which will be funded through Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The DRI aims to transform local neighborhoods across the state into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise a family. Working together with state agencies and the Regional Economic Development Council, the City of Jamestown has built a strategic investment plan that identifies catalytic downtown projects consistent with the initiative's goals.