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STUDY SHEDS LIGHT ON RESTORATION OF THEATER, SETS COST AT $2.7 MILLION

It will take $2.7 million to restore Gowanda's Hollywood Theater, according to a feasibility study released this week.

But that prospect does not scare the Hollywood Theater Advisory Board at all, says its spokesman, Bryan Bradley.

The $19,000 study by "Another Alternative Resource" and J.E. BaunAssociates of Buffalo was commissioned by the Gowanda Area Redevelopment Corp., which hopes to turn the 72-year-old old movie and vaudeville house into a multipurpose arts venue for southern Erie and northern Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.

The theater could attract more visitors to Gowanda, thus boosting the community's economy.

The study includes results from community surveys, personal interviews and the experience of other similar projects across the country, Bradley said.

"It's a major undertaking, but similar projects in smaller rural communities farther from major cities have managed to raise even larger sums," he said.

The whole building has to be brought in line with modern building codes, the stage needs to be repaired and possibly enlarged, and the roof above the stage should be raised to accommodate the equipment needed if the theater wants to stage dramas.

"The study has already saved us money" with that information, said advisory board member Patricia Kota. "We were considering putting on a new roof, which would have to be torn up and replaced, in light of this information."

Funds can be raised through a blend of private and public resources, Bradley said, adding that $60,000 will be spent to restore the marquee to its original style next year.

The money comes from a $10,000 Empire State development grant, $15,000 given as a legislative "member item" by the late State Sen. Jess J. Present, R-Bemus Point, and a $100,000 matching grant from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

"We have either cash or in-kind services to obtain that grant," Bradley said. "It just will take months until we get their check."

Federal grants may be available, further state aid may be forthcoming, and private foundations might be willing to help, theater proponents say.

"That's why we got the feasibility study done," Bradley said. "The Wendt Foundation, which has been enormously helpful to arts organizations here, would not consider a request without a study.

"Besides," he added, "we will hold fund-raisers, special events and send mailings to people in and outside the Gowanda area. I believe we can raise the money to complete this project."

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