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Peekskill's Paramount Center suspends operations to reorganize
The Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill announced in a statement this morning that it will temporarily suspend operations while reorganizing. The decision was made at a Board Executive Committee Meeting held Tuesday night.
According to the statement, "The Paramount apologizes for the inconvenience we have caused to our members, all those who purchased tickets for shows that will have to be cancelled or delayed and to the friends of the Paramount who have been supportive of our efforts to provide a diverse menu of high quality performances and visual arts exhibits over the years." The same statement is posted on the Paramount Center's website (www.paramountcenter.org).
The Paramount Center is a 960-seat nonprofit arts institution that originally opened as a movie complex in 1930. It held a red-carpet gala fundraiser on Sept. 15, which included a performance by Foreigner, where it looked to raise $300,000.
Cortlandt Manor resident Damien Calemmo is the president of Delta Claims, an insurance liaison company that moved in July from Valhalla to set up shop at 1016 Brown St., right next to the Paramount.
“One of the reasons we moved here is because the city is going through a renaissance,” he said. “We wanted to be part of such a great, beautiful city. And the Paramount was a staple. ... It’s right in my backyard. I’d hate to see a vacant building next to me.”
As a Paramount member who’s supported the nonprofit theater for at least four years, Calemmo said he was among the subscribers this summer to receive emails that addressed the venue’s financial situation. He said he figured the theater might have to suspend operations at some point.
“But I didn’t expect it to happen so soon,” he added. “It was expected, but I was hoping that somebody would come through [with funding].”
This morning’s statement comes exactly one month after the Sept. 4 reopening of The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester — Peter Shapiro’s refurbished, for-profit music venue that can host nearly twice as many audience members (1,835) as the Paramount. Just days before Bob Dylan’s show marked The Cap’s reopening, Paramount director Lisa Reiss told Newsday Westchester she didn’t consider the situation a threat to her venue.
"I'm not really looking at it either way," she said at the time. "It's another theater, and it happens to be on the other side of Westchester County ... I'm not particularly worried about them, and I'm not worried about competing with them."
Fewer than three weeks before Blues Traveler played an Aug. 23 show the Paramount, The Cap announced that the rock band would be sharing an Oct. 13 show with the Spin Doctors at the Port Chester venue. Shapiro offered to advertise the Paramount show in his email newsletter as compensation; Reiss agreed to those terms.
"That's what you call playing well with others in your market,” Reiss said at the time. "There will be times that [The Capitol] will get a show that I wish I had gotten first, but for the most part, I think they are going to be targeting a different demographic and a different audience."
Follow-up calls and emails seeking comment from Reiss and Shapiro went unanswered as of Thursday afternoon.
Shows that had been scheduled for the Paramount included the Go-Gos on Oct. 10, Bernie Williams on Oct. 20, En Vogue on Nov. 17 and the Dark Star Orchestra on Nov. 20.
Calemmo said his favorite live act to perform at the Paramount, “by far,” is Fab Faux, the critically acclaimed Beatles cover band that has played the venue multiple times in the last few years. He also enjoyed watching films at the theater.
Calemmo said he wasn’t worried about how the Paramount’s suspended operations would impact his business, but expressed concern for others in downtown Peekskill. “I do have plenty of friends that own businesses, that own restaurants and such, and it’s definitely going to impact them,” he said.
Despite the news, he remains hopeful that the theater will return to staging shows and resuming other programs in the near future.
“I think there’s plenty of people out there that have strong concern for the arts and culture,” he said. “And I think somebody’s going to come through [with funding]. I don’t see this thing going to the wayside. I’m sure something’s going to happen, and, hopefully, the sooner the better.”