May 05--Threatened just months ago with a homeless future, KISS Theatre has landed a new venue in a property that itself has a new owner. The "Kids Innovating Stage and Sound" children's performing arts group announced a deal with Joe Amato Properties to settle into Amato's recently purchased East End Centre.
KISS Theatre learned at the beginning of March that its five-year home in a former movie theatre complex at the Wyoming Valley Mall would no longer be available come June. The theatre, which works with about 500 children to put on more than a dozen performances, scrambled for a new location and quickly garnered widespread community support.
Within weeks Amato, fresh off the purchase of the nearby East End Center in Wilkes-Barre Township, suggested space could be available there. KISS Theatre announced today that a deal has been struck to provide nearly 15,000 square feet in part of what had been Beiter's Home Improvement Center, room enough for a 220-seat theater, office space, set construction and costume storage.
"We are deeply grateful to Joe Amato and his corporation for finding a place for KISS Theatre in Wilkes-Barre," KISS Board Chairman Eric Fitzgerald said in a media release. "He came forward to rescue our theatre after our lease was non-renewed, and he has helped to save the arts for the children of Luzerne County."
"KISS Theatre provides such an important theatrical education to the children of Northeastern Pennsylvania," Amato said in the same release. "We were pleased to find a way to help their organization build a new home in our East End Centre."
Amato also noted the center is adding several new anchors, including Gabe's Department store in the former Price Chopper Building.
The move won't come cheap, and Kiss Theatre is kicking off the "race for the Space" Capital campaign to raise $150,000. A 7 p.m. gala benefit is set for May 31 at the new location. The Theatre will also hold a "community day" earlier on the same date. Families with children can visit the new location from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and, for a $20 donation, enjoy entertainment and kid-friendly activities.
Amato said his company is helping out by doing work on the space, including a new wall, new air conditioning, revamped electrical work and a new roof the building needs. All told, he said, The former Beiter's Building is about 80,000 square feet, and he is in negotiations with a company interested in leasing the remaining 65,000 square feet.
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