The Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce’s 109th Annual Dinner is coming up on Oct. 17, and this year’s theme is "Spotlight Cayuga." Performing arts are a significant contributing factor to quality of life and the visitor experience in our community, which are both important for an array of reasons. Having a high quality of life helps to keep existing residents here, as well as attract new residents. This, in turn, strengthens the tax base and expands the workforce, not to mention it provides a critical mass to support businesses, entertainment and activities. A strong visitor experience is important because, let’s be honest, visitors spend money (over $101 million in Cayuga County in 2017, to be exact). Tourism is a wealth-generating industry, as it brings outside dollars into the community, and all that spending generated nearly $13 million in local and state taxes to help offset the taxes of local residents and businesses. You can see all of the facts and figures in the Cayuga County Office of Tourism’s Annual Report, found at tourcayuga.com/partners. Given the importance of performing arts in supporting quality of life and tourism, we at the chamber wanted to spend an evening celebrating this aspect of our community.
Some of the performing arts organizations we’ll be spotlighting include:
• The Auburn Chamber Orchestra offers a range of opportunities to musicians and music lovers alike. Talented musicians get the opportunity to continue their craft, fans get affordable access to professionally performed symphonic concerts, and some worthy high school seniors are awarded scholarships.
• “Home of your neighborhood stars," Auburn Players Community Theatre offers high-quality plays and musicals. From Broadway classics to off-Broadway comedies, Auburn Players has something for everyone.
• The New York Institute of Dance & Education, in partnerships with its affiliate Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre, both entertains and teaches. Hosting the successful New York Dance Festival and Harriet Tubman Freedom Music Festival, NYIDE brings world-class dance and music to our backyard and makes the art of dance accessible to all.
Some of the special venues we’ll be spotlighting include:
• A staple of downtown Auburn, Auburn Public Theater currently features two stages and a cinema. It provides space for a variety of arts programming, community events and education, from plays and musicals to stand-up comedy and open mic nights. With an expansion in the works, APT is growing to offer a full suite of creative spaces.
• Surrounding APT, downtown Auburn provides various outdoor and public stages, including the gazebo on State Street, the pavilion at Market Street Park, and the stage at Hoopes Park. These venues, among other public spaces, are used for summer concert series and arts events/festivals organized by the city of Auburn and the Auburn Downtown Business Improvement District.
• Located at the Cayuga Museum, the Carriage House Theater offers a stage and intimate venue for an array of performing arts, and it is home to the Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival’s new musical series, The Pitch, in the summer.
• Coming soon: Renovation and restoration of the Auburn Schine Theater is underway! The historic theater will become a multi-purpose performance and event space. It already looks great, but we can’t wait to see the final product!
And then there are the organizations that are both performers and venues:
• Referred to as “Broadway in the Finger Lakes,” the Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival brings Broadway-quality theater to Cayuga County. The festival also owns and operates the iconic Merry-Go-Round Playhouse at Emerson Park and manages the newly renovated West End Theater at the former West Middle School. The West End Theater is available for rent, but is also home base for the Merry-Go-Round Youth Theater.
• Arc of Seneca Cayuga’s Spotlight Studio offers individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities the opportunity to explore and develop creative talents. The facility includes a dance studio and performance studio, among other amenities, and offers public performances each month.
Performing arts is an important part of the Cayuga County community. These organizations and venues provide unique and unforgettable experiences for residents and visitors alike. From theater to comedy to local music, we have so much entertainment on offer. So come "Spotlight Cayuga" with us on Oct. 17 at the Emerson Park Pavilion. Please register by Oct. 10. Registration is available online at cayugacountychamber.com.