Sen. Schumer promotes Save Our Stages funding as Proctors in Schenectady reopens
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was in Schenectady Sunday, completing his annual statewide tour and celebrating funding for the arts in upstate New York.
Schumer stopped by the historic Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, which had just reopened for the Broadway tour of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.”
Schumer touted the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program. The Democrat says the "Save Our Stages" law, passed in March, was a lifeline for venues across the state.
"And we created in this bill money not only to go to the state, but money to go to the city and the county so they could keep their services," Schumer said. "We learned how people needed broadband. If you were particularly in a more rural part, even here in the Capital Region, your kids couldn't get school you couldn't get telemedicine you couldn't communicate with the rest of the world. And in the legislation is money for broadband $65 billion for both rural and inner city folks who can't do broadband. But the bottom line is this. And of course, I came to theaters like Proctors and like the Palace, no one was showing up, they were ready to go under. And when they go under their whole staff leave, and putting it back together again is next to impossible. So when we crafted the legislation, both for save our stages and for the PPP, and for the restaurants bill, we said it goes to keep your employees paid. So when you reopen, you can reopen a bigger, better and stronger than ever."
Save Our Stages has also kept the lights on at other area venues like the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, The Egg, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and Albany's Palace Theatre.
The American Rescue Plan COVID relief package Schumer helped negotiate provided Proctors with $10 million in funding. But Proctors Collaborative CEO Phillip Morris anticipates audiences to remain somewhat hesitant for the next several months.
"In March of 2020, Proctors shut down. All of our peers shut down," said Morris. "Some of them up here today, people from the Troy Music Hall and the Palace, all of our peers around the country shut down. We went from a $30 million organization a year to virtually zero. And then we waited. Chuck Schumer made it possible for us to reopen."
Schumer hailed Proctors as an "economic anchor" in downtown Schenectady.
"Now, today, I complete my 23rd 62 county tour. Every year I have been Senator of New York, I have visited every county," Schumer said. "Actually, Schenectady County is number 61. And then we're going over to Wyoming County, east of Buffalo for the 62nd County. And when I became majority leader of the Senate, people said 'you're never going to be able to visit each county with that job.' But I said of course I will. It's vital to doing my job well to visit. This year's 62 county tour was more important than any other because COVID raged. And as COVID raged, visiting the counties allowed me to see what was going on."
Schumer's office says the program has provided more than $1.9 billion to theaters and the arts across New York.