Stadium Theatre to potentially benefit from tax credit expansion, ballot question
STATE HOUSE – The Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket is poised for significant improvements under legislation passed by the General Assembly this year, and a separate ballot question legislators put on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The General Assembly this year approved legislation (2014-H 8246, 2014-S 3130) sponsored by Rep. Michael Morin and Sen. Roger A. Picard and cosponsored by Sen. Marc A. Cote, Rep. Stephen Casey and Rep. Robert Phillips to make the Stadium more attractive as a venue for large-scale theatrical tours and productions by expanding the state’s Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit program from 1,500 seat venues to 1,000 seat venues, therefore now including the 1088-seat Stadium.
The credit is designed to attract tours, pre and post-Broadway productions and to create a local industry of designers, creators of costumes, scenery, props, technicians, caterers and more.
“We should encourage economic development in all communities, and this is one way we could do that for Woonsocket and any other community with theaters this size. The Stadium Theatre is beautifully restored, and would be a terrific place for these types of productions. Most Broadway theaters hold less than 1,500 seats – they tend to be closer to the number of seats at the Stadium,” said Representative Morin (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket).
Said Senator Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland), “Rhode Island has some clear advantages that make us attractive to producers looking for a location to develop Broadway shows and tours. We’re easy to reach from New York, but the costs here are so much lower. They’d have the access they need, but would save significantly if they developed their shows here instead. This tax credit has resulted in several national tours developing in Providence, so expanding it will receive more attention from the industry and spread the benefits to other parts of the state, like Woonsocket.”
In 2008, Liza Minelli used the Stadium Theatre to perfect “Liza’s at the Palace…” which she performed there for four out-of-town tryout performances before its run later that year at the Palace Theatre in New York. Representative Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket/Cumberland) said, “a production like that, is exactly the kind of activity they are hoping this change will attract.”
Boosting the Stadium’s potential also contributes to the economic possibilities for the rest of the community, said the legislators.
“The Stadium Theatre is a vital economic engine for Woonsocket. This legislation has created another incentive for professional Broadway touring companies to perform at the Stadium. The attraction of a Broadway touring company will bring more patrons to the theatre and into our city to enjoy the restaurants and other venues that Woonsocket has to offer,” said Representative Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket).
Said Senator Cote (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), “The Stadium Theatre is a valuable resource to our community, contributing both by supporting arts and culture organizations that enrich life in Woonsocket and through all the economic activity it generates. It brings visitors to downtown from all over, and they spend money in the local restaurants and shops before and after the events. Strengthening the Stadium makes the economic potential of our city greater.”
The Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Center also stands to receive $2.1 million for a major expansion if voters statewide approve Question 5 on the Nov. 4 ballot. The ballot question would allow $35 million in bonds for arts and cultural organizations as well as preservation of cultural and historic sites.
If voters approve the question, the Stadium plans to use the money to renovate the Stadium Office Building next door to the theater – originally built in conjunction with the theater – into space for performance, rehearsal, set construction, costume design, recording, instruction and office use. The Stadium already owns the building and uses parts of it, but it needs renovations to reach its potential. Among the plans is converting the basement, now used for costume and props storage, into an intimate black box theater, as well as additional dressing room space, which is cramped in the theater itself. The first floor would remain in its current use for set design, but its storefronts would be used to provide passersby a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the latest productions, and part would become a café and gift shop. The plan, which is expected to take about four years, would transform the office building’s second floor into badly needed rehearsal space, and the third floor into a costume shop with enough capacity to craft and lease costumes to other theatrical organizations. The theater’s administrative offices, now sharing space in the box office, would move to the fourth floor, where there would also be a recording studio for musicians.
For more information on the Stadium, visit www.stadiumtheatre.com.
IN PHOTO: From left, Sen. Roger A. Picard, Rep. Michael A. Morin, Stadium Theatre Executive Director/CEO Cathy Levesque, Rep. Robert D. Phillips and Rep. Stephen M. Casey (not pictured, Sen. Marc. A. Cote) at the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903