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Opinion: Why The New Bedford Playhouse Matters

As construction on The Bedford Playhouse steadily progresses, the community in Westchester and beyond stands to gain in more ways than one.
As construction on The Bedford Playhouse steadily progresses, the community in Westchester and beyond stands to gain in more ways than one. Photo Credit: The Bedford Playhouse

BEDFORD, N.Y. -- The Bedford Playhouse is finally under construction. After over two years of sustained effort, we are on the cusp of achieving something truly historic for the town.

Initially, we wanted to save the Playhouse because it was an integral part of Bedford Village. To have had a CVS or banquet hall take its place would have robbed the town of some of its character.

My own experience bringing back the Avon Theatre in Stamford also revealed the benefits an arts movie house could bring to a community. The Avon taught me that local cultural institutions revitalize neighborhoods, draw in more people and attract merchants who stay and grow.

Beyond the “dollars and cents” perspective, there’s another reason why the new Playhouse matters. Firstly, the arts enhance lives. A great painting, book, play or film makes us think and feel; it feeds our spirits. Secondly, at a time when technology can isolate us, the Playhouse will bring us together more. The arts were not meant to be experienced alone, but rather shared as a group.

Now all this sounds exciting, but it doesn’t address the obvious questions: why has the Playhouse renovation taken so long? Why so expensive?

We’ve certainly had our share of twists and turns along the way. During the planning stages, we realized a total gut renovation would be necessary. This was partly due to the condition of the building, but also a fundamental belief that if we were going to do it at all, we wanted to do it right.

Our overriding goal has always been to create a resource that could sustain itself over time. We could win praise for doing the renovation quickly and cheaply, but that won’t help us if we fail once we open. All that said, from a construction cost perspective we’re still below many similar area cinemas and theaters, when adjusted for inflation.

Our budgets are now firm, our team mobilized. Once we succeed with this final capital push, we will have a new Playhouse that will enhance the area and the lives of its residents for generations to come.

To learn more about The Bedford Playhouse or to donate, click here.

John Farr is the Founder and President of Bedford Playhouse

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