In response to Cheryl J. Cranston's letter, I would like to delineate the unique qualities of Shea's Buffalo Performing Arts Center and Studio Arena Theatre.
Both provide important services to the community, but of a very different nature. Shea's presents "road shows," which may be theater, dance, music or other art forms. These shows are prepackaged and tour the country.
Studio Arena produces theater -- each play is a one-time-only, built-in-Buffalo production, for which a cast is auditioned, a director is hired, scenery, lighting, costumes and sound are designed and a staff of 75-plus personnel (who live and pay taxes in Erie County) are hired to build the production elements and run the administrative operations.
While Shea's is well-suited to large "Broadway-type" musicals, dance, and opera, it is not as well-suited to the serious, intimate dramas in which Studio Arena specializes.
Here are a few facts about how Studio Arena contributes to the quality of life in Western New York:
Studio Arena is Buffalo's only link to the professional regional theater network that has become America's "national theater." In fact, Studio Arena is among the regional theaters nationally producing new scripts that may move on to Broadway.
Studio Arena earns 70 percent of its income through ticket sales. It owns its facility (the City of Buffalo owns Shea's), maintains the building, and funds depreciation.
Studio Arena has 271 performances this season, and is open six days a week, September through June. Shea's often plays on the same evenings as Studio Arena, and both frequently enjoy sold-out performances.
Studio Arena is attended by 140,000-plus patrons annually (14 percent from outside Erie County), and has the largest subscription base of any performing arts series in the state, outside of New York City.
Studio Arena has an estimated impact of $5 million on Western New York's economy. It spends over $600,000 for goods and services with over 200 Erie County businesses. With annual sales of over $2 million, Studio Arena is a major downtown retailer.
ANN MARIE SANDERS
Studio Arena Theater