The Clemens Center is the only remaining theatre in Elmira, New York, hosting 66,000 ticketed patrons and hundreds of others for public meetings, rehearsals, and performances throughout the year. Fifteen percent of our audience is from rural northern Pennsylvania where there is no such performing arts center. We work to provide arts experiences for those traditionally underserved. There is significant poverty in the region so we book programs with the Department of Social Services Youth Bureau, Community Centers, children enrolled in Head Start, and those on the autism spectrum in mind.
The public entrance to the theatre is off an alley alongside an elevated train track because in the 1970s the front façade of the building, originally built in 1925, was removed to make way for a state highway. The box office vestibule and main lobby are now oriented to the house left side of the auditorium, and are too small to contain the crowds who frequent our 1,600-seat venue. Yards away from our patio entry, a new multi-purpose retail and housing development has been constructed and a new pedestrian access from our venue, behind the new building and public square, will link us to Main Street. Our exterior has not been upgraded for 40 years and is dilapidated and unsafe in places. The project redesigns the entrance to make it more accessible, more in sync with the downtown improvements, and improve safety and access for patrons of all ages. Depending upon the award received, the entry could be fully enclosed to shelter people from the Upstate New York winters, or serve as a beautiful atrium for community events. Additionally, on the second floor, an existing access door to the roof of the box office would lend itself for construction of a roof garden with bistro seating to overlook the new entry. The garden would serve as a pleasant gathering space for event attendees to view the skyline and enjoy the evening air. The new spaces would enhance thee visitor experience and provide much needed rental income back to the organization.