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Grants help performance venues reopen the stage

More than $10 million in federal grant money was just handed down to a dozen venues in our area.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Broadway is coming back to Scranton. The Scranton Cultural Center is preparing to raise its curtains once again for the first time since February of 2020. 

The director of the Broadway Theatre League, Frank Blasi, tells us there were a lot of moments where he wasn't sure whether they'd make it. 

"We were literally looking at the balance sheet and saying, 'how long are we gonna be able to make our monthly payroll and rent, and whatever else is there?' And it was bleak for a while because we really didn't know how long we were gonna be able to stay open."

It was the same story at the Cultural Center, with no money coming in for 18 months. 

"The challenge has been maintaining this building without revenue coming in. It's a $20,000 a week ticket item," said Deb Peterson, executive director. 

So when Peterson and Blasi learned a few weeks ago that their organizations had each been awarded more than $600,000 in federal grant money, they were thrilled.

"Overjoyed is probably an understatement, but yes, that was my feeling," said Blasi. 

The money from the grants will do two things: make up for lost revenue during the pandemic, and help the venues get a jumpstart for their upcoming seasons. 

Broadway Theatre League is preparing for three shows this fall. 

"If we didn't have the money coming in, we probably would not be able to put all of them on, or if we did, it would have been on a more limited basis," said Blasi.

Now that some of the financial stresses are taken care of, the directors can't wait until the seats in the theater are filled once again. 

"It's going to feel like we're back, and we're home again. And we've been feeling like we're at home, but to actually see people with smiles on their faces is the most important thing because being accessible to the community is what we're all about," said Peterson. 

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