Contributed by: Eric Zavinski
“This is by far the most satisfying position I’ve ever had,” Kathleen Eads, executive director for Jamestown’s Reg Lenna Center for The Arts, told the Jamestown Gazette recently. She is optimistic about this year’s changes and renovations.
Eads and a group of architects worked for a year-and-a-half on a master plan to resurrect to the famous, landmark facility and to generate revenue for the project. Renovations, which began on Dec. 4, 2017, are slated for completion by mid-October, with the theater’s the ground level ready by July 30, in time for Lucy Fest.
Recently, the Reg Lenna began their renovations by moving move their front entrance from the 3rd Street lobby area to 215 Spring Street. Amidst the noise of construction and workers with hard hats, the Reg Lenna is still open for business and looking for ways to serve the community more in the future.
“I just want people to know that we are still open and doing business as usual,” Eads said.
Eads, who has worked previously on Broadway and in numerous theatre locations throughout California, came to work in Jamestown because she wanted to have a fresh start bringing the arts to a new community.
A recent school matinee of Dino-Light: A Glow-in-the-Dark Adventure by Lightwire Theater, for example, brought amazement and thrills from the students in response to a great show.
“That makes my whole day. That’s what it’s all about,” Eads said.
Reg Lenna’s total project is pegged at $4.5 million to upgrade the aesthetic and safety of its century-old buildings and facilities. After New York Governor Andrew Cuomo launched the Downtown Revitalization Imitative (DRI), Jamestown won one of ten $10 million awards to revitalize its historic downtown.
“The Governor’s $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) is a comprehensive, multi-agency approach to transform vulnerable, vacant or forgotten areas of the state into livable, walkable, dynamic neighborhoods,” according to Cuomo.
Many people have contributed to the project, in many ways, Eads said. Jamestown’s Mayor Sam Teresi, for example, has supported the Reg since he worked there at the age of 18, Linda Swanson and Greg Edwards at the Gebbie Foundation have been crucial in fund raising, and Roger Tory Peterson in spearheading the organization of the Banff Film Festival.
Safety is Key
The lobby has been leveled for easier access, including improved concessions and box office locations, and about $2 million is earmarked to upgrade amenities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many other changes reflect a safety focus. The Reg Lenna, for example, is almost surrounded by restaurants, requiring enhanced fire safety protocols. New vestibules will control air conditioning and heat for patrons.
While not directly part of the Reg Lenna renovations, new sidewalks will be installed in mid-April with a snow melt system to make the Reg a welcoming and safer place for theater goers even in the winter time.
Reg Lenna’s 3rd on 3rd Art Gallery is moving down to street level to be more welcoming to guests, with possible sidewalk seating as well. A new multimedia studio will take over the third floor, wired for audiovisual livestreaming of concerts, long-distance meetings and more.
The multimedia studio will be made “…as flexible as it can be for the arts and non-arts,” Eads said.
Modern Historical Offerings
Maintaining historical appearance and significance are key goals, for example repositioning the 1878 Buffalo Bill Billboard to be more visible.
“The Reg is a community treasure, and we want to keep it going for another 150 years,” Eads said. The current theatre was rebuilt in 1923 after a fire, so a 100th anniversary celebration is coming up.
In 2019, Eads plans to start programming year-round instead of seasonal cycles. After a third sold out performance this current season, the Reg Lenna sees great prospects to support more busy seasons to come.
Ticket price points have also been rearranged, with a new average ticket price projected at $25, and possibly half-price for patrons 18 and under, and a premium ticket section for more select seats.
In another major upgrade to the theater goer’s experience, the Reg has also obtained a New York State liquor license, allowing for beer and wine sales for patrons. Movies and local arts, WRFA-LP 107.9 radio, the revived art gallery and Corner Café are all offerings which Eads hopes will continue to show local residents that Reg Lenna’s loyalty is to its hometown.
“In the end, the Reg will always serve the community first. Tourists are wonderful, but they are like frosting on the cake,” Eads said.
Movies at the Reg mark the end of March. Recently released western film, Hostiles, starring Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike will be screened on Wednesday, March 28 at 7 p.m. The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman, Zach Efron and Zendaya will show on Saturday, March 31 at 8 p.m.
Quebec “circus-style fun” will soon be coming to the Reg Lenna, too, in Circo Comedia on Saturday, May 12 at 4 p.m.
Tickets start at $5 for students and $10 for adults. Tickets can be purchased at the 215 Spring Street Box Office or by calling (716) 484-7070.
Learn more online at the Reg Lenna Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pg/RegLenna/events/