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Peekskill's Paramount Looks to Keep Growing

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – About 37,000 people came to the Paramount Center for the Arts to see shows in 2011, and the staff is working to increase that number.

Paramount Director Lisa Reiss gave a presentation to Peekskill officials Monday night about what the venue has planned for the coming year. The Paramount is committed to creating a positive experience for theatergoers, she said.

"Research shows that 90 percent of all theater attendees will return if they have a positive buyer experience, which includes the right act, the right date and the right price," Reiss said. It also includes ease of parking, availability of local restaurants, and additional destination experiences and expectations, she said.

As a nonprofit performance venue the Paramount walks a fine line, Reiss said.

"Nonprofit arts centers have the challenge of programming to the public while at the same time remaining artistically relevant," Reiss said. "The ultimate goal is a balance of profit and aesthetics."

The Paramount hosted 52 live performances in 2011 and an additional 17 shows through outside promoters and venue rentals. In addition, the Paramount hosted screenings of 136 films and filmed performances last year that drew almost 4,000 ticket buyers, and it hosts a series of Arts in Education programs that draw thousands of students from area schools.

In the year ahead the Paramount already has 28 shows booked plus six theater rentals in place. In the coming months the Paramount will host Judy Collins, Suzanne Vega and Duncan Sheik, comedian Bob Saget, Southside Johnny and the Poor Fools, Glen Campbell, and a just-announced show by Kenny Loggins in July.

A new cabaret stage series is coming in September, and classical music will return to the Paramount in October, Reiss said.

Another big change is moving the annual June Gala to the fall and making it a Kick-off Gala for the season.

The Paramount is also revamping its website, and will include listings of nearby restaurants for visitors. Reiss said the venue is looking to create better relationships with city eating establishments through various methods. The Paramount has also started sending out a show calendar to let restaurants know what days to expect more people, and is also offering discounts.

"Through our e-mail blast campaign we have targeted two of our supporters, 12 Grapes and Henry's on The Hudson, and we're running discount coupons to see how that works," Reiss said.

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