UPAC seeks $1.3 million for upgrades to allow year-round operation

(Photo by John Fischer)

(Photo by John Fischer)

The Ulster Performing Arts Center is embarking on an ambitious campaign to raise more than $1.3 million to carry out a long-awaited upgrade and take advantage of Midtown Kingston’s emerging arts district. Chris Silva, CEO of Bardavon/UPAC, parent company of the 1927 vintage theater on Broadway and Poughkeepsie’s Bardavon Opera House, said that the goal is to complete work in 2017 that will allow the venue to operate year-round.

“The Midtown arts district is really taking off, I can be as cynical as the next person, but I see it actually having energy,” said Silva. “We want to be in a position to capitalize on that.”

The 1,500-seat theater puts on about 30 events each year bringing in major acts like Jeff Beck, ZZ Top and comedian Bill Maher. On show nights, hundreds of attendees flock to the city’s bars and restaurants. But an antiquated heating and air conditioning system means that the venue is forced to close its doors from July to September and runs a limited number of shows in the coldest winter months. Since acquiring UPAC a decade ago, the company has invested some $3 million in the building but has struggled to amass the funds to complete the overhaul. Now, Silva said, is time for a final push to finish all of the work.

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“We’re really close to being done,” said Silva of the fundraising push. “Now we’re opening it up to the public.”

All told, the renovation project is expected to cost $4.75 million. It includes replacement of the heating and air conditioning systems, expansion of the lobby and restrooms, electrical upgrades, a new roof and structural stabilization. Bardavon/UPAC has put together a funding package totaling $3.36 million. The money includes grants, donations and half a million dollars of the company’s projected operating revenue. Silva acknowledged that the use of operating revenue represented a risk, but he said, it was one the company believed would pay off in the end. The year-round season, Silva said, would generate an estimated 10,000 additional visitors to the venue who in turn would pump about $250,000 a year into the surrounding area.

“If we don’t stick our necks out, the opportunity will pass,” said Silva.

The final piece of the funding puzzle, Silva said, was to find an investor willing to trade cash for state and federal historic tax credits held by the company. Silva said he planned to meet with the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency later this week to discuss the funding plan and begin the process of seeking investors.

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