June 24--The movie projectors may have stopped running in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center, but the show will go on for local theater company Road Less Traveled Productions. At least for now.
The 11-year-old theater company, which established its eponymous theater inside one of the Market Arcade's under-utilized cinemas in 2006, announced in a statement that it will work with the City of Buffalo to keep its space open and accessible to theatergoers.
But the long-term fate of the theater will be up to whoever purchases the building. Four developers, including Rocco Termini, Nick Sinatra, Gregory Daniel and an anonymous bidder have expressed interest in buying the building from the City of Buffalo, which currently owns it.
In a letter sent to the administration of Mayor Byron W. Brown, the Buffalo Common Council and the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, Road Less Traveled Artistic and Executive Director Scott Behrend and board chairwoman Ellen Hassett Cahill appealed to the city to consider the company's future in its decision about the building's future and endorsed Sinatra's bid. The details of his proposal for the space haven't been released yet.
"Based on our conversations with bidders, RLTP is able to support only the plans of Nick Sinatra (and any associated partnership). Mr. Sinatra's plan for the building allows RLTP to remain in the space, and meet our mission," the letter stated. "It is our belief that Mr. Sinatra's plan also adheres to the larger intent for the building, expressed by the city and its constituents: that the space remain an accessible, inclusive arts and cultural community asset."
In another letter to the Brown administration, a consortium of 10 local foundations known as the Fund for the Arts urged the city to "maintain some configuration that will continue to provide high-quality, diverse offerings in film, theater and other entertainment."
"Many of the FFA funders have provided support to Road Less Traveled Productions, and we would undoubtedly continue to do so. We would also consider providing support for similar activities," the letter stated. "Ultimately, preserving MAFAC has much more to do with fanning the sparks of creative offerings for those who are now 'homesteading' downtown, and it is our strong hope that you agree."
Behrend praised city officials for working with the company on a plan to keep it open during the transition process. He also noted that while Termini expressed a desire to include the company in his plans, Sinatra "has made it clear that Road Less Traveled is a priority tenant in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center."
"First of all, we've seen this coming for a long time and have been prepared for it. The city has been great to work with on keeping us operational in the building as the transition occurs. As far as we know at this point, we're going to be able to operate in there until the new owner has been selected," Behrend said. "We have full confidence that the city's going to choose a developer that is going to make sure that Road Less Traveled will be able to stay in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center for hopefully a long time to come."
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