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December 10, 2012

Foothills head mulls impact of theater closure

 

Directors of Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center will meet today for an annual meeting to not only consider fiscal and programming plans but also celebrate accomplishments in the past two years, the board president said Sunday.   
 
``We have come a long way,’’ Dick Miller of the Foothills board and mayor of Oneonta.
 
Foothills, a not-for-profit organization on Market Street downtown, has gained stability by paying down on debts and generating revenue, Miller said. But the center continues to face ``always precarious'' fiscal waters that produce periodic funding gaps, he said.
 
Meanwhile, the Oneonta Theatre’s pending closure Jan. 1 could have two impacts on Foothills, Miller said. The first would be filling a programming gap, he said, and the second could be a fundraising challenge as Foothills continues its annual campaign when would-be donors might be drawn by an effort to save the historic Oneonta Theatre at 47 Chestnut St. downtown.
 
Factors influencing the fate of the two organizations include the area’s small population with limited philanthropic resources, Miller said, and the differences between running a for-profit business, the Oneonta Theatre, and a not-for-profit organization, Foothills. 
 
``The best thing would be to have both entities to survive,’’ Miller said. ``I have worked to that end.’’
 
But if only were to survive, the ``harsh reality’’ is that Foothills would be the better facility because of its mission to serve the community, its history of public funding and its prominent location on Market Street, Miller said.
 
Foothills' annual budget is about $450,000, Miller said, and the center’s monthly operating budget is about $30,000 for payroll, utilities and other expenses. The center’s staff includes an executive director, a manager of operations, a facilities manager and an administrator. 
 
Foothills has programmed about 422 events between Jan. 1, 2011, and Oct. 31, Miller said. The events have included performances, space for election polling and public hearings, reception services for weddings, business meetings and other gatherings, he said.

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