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Local News -

September 3, 2009

Plans for city theater unveiled

ONEONTA _ FOTOT has put the ``o'' back into the Oneonta Theatre.

Friends of the Oneonta Theatre and supporters said Wednesday that the stage at the 47 Chestnut St. theater has been cleared, water leaks in the roof are fixed and bats have been evicted. Plans are being made to show films, present shows and concerts and provide performance space for local groups and artists.

Plans and state funding were announced at a media conference among seats inside the theater Wednesday. FOTOT supporters then took newly made letters outside for the marquee _ where the second ``o'' in Oneonta Theatre had long been missing _ and the sign was made complete.

``It's going to be an art house,'' FOTOT board president Patrice Macaluso said.

The theater has 675 seats, plus an enclosed balcony, an orchestra pit and a 60-foot fly space. Since it was built in 1897, it has hosted vaudeville acts, movies and other performances. The property is listed on state and national registers of historic places.

Macaluso said FOTOT has an agreement with Thomas Cormier, the building's owner, to rent the theater. Lease terms still are being worked out, she said, and goals include keeping overhead low so the theater can be financially accessible to community groups.

State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said he designated $10,000 from the 2009-10 state budget as a member item for FOTOT. The grant will help in general operating expenses for the theater, he said.

The Oneonta Theatre is an important part of Oneonta's history, said Seward, who shared childhood memories of lines of patrons waiting outside the theater to see Disney movies. The theater should be part of Oneonta's future and development as a thriving arts center, he said.

``We announce the rebirth of this Oneonta landmark,'' Seward said Wednesday. ``This is a big step forward.''

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