According to Randy Conti of the New York Conservatory of the Arts, his theater and arts entity’s purchase of the property on Mill Hill Road, including a shed-like theater space and outbuildings, has been okayed by the New York State Attorney General’s office and the State Supreme Court.
An earlier decision to hold on release of this news was thwarted this week, however, when the Margaretville-based Catskill Watershed Corporation sent out a press release on Tuesday announcing its board’s decision, last Tuesday, November 2, to make a $700,000 low-interest loan available to NYCA’s parent not-for-profit, the Pan American Dance Foundation, to buy and refurbish the Playhouse.
“The Pan American Dance Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that has been doing business in Hurley for 23 years as the New York Conservatory for the Arts, is purchasing the Playhouse which is currently in foreclosure,” read the November 9 CWC press release. “The $700,000 REDI Loan from the Catskill Fund for the Future will enable the Foundation, led by Executive Director Randy Conti and President Diane Stein, to purchase the property at 103 Mill Hill Road, enclose the open air structure, build interior walls, install stage lighting and new seating and make other improvements.”
Last spring, the Woodstock Playhouse’s board president Joan Roberts quietly announced that the property had slipped into foreclosure after the not-for-profit Woodstock Arts Board failed to make $2,700 per month mortgage payments to two local banks for over one year. This past summer, Roberts made a last-ditch attempt to raise funds to save the structure, which replaced a 1930s barn theater that burned in 1988 after hosting years of musical and dramatic productions, as well as album recordings for The Band and other artists, by making a Facebook plea that said, “In the grand scheme of things, $415,000 [the amount of the mortgage] is a drop in the bucket. …In my heart, I can’t think of the Playhouse project as being over. I know that there are people out there who feel as strongly as I do…It’s not just another business. It’s been in town in one form or another since 1928. Hallowed ground?”
More recently, the Playhouse website has simply read, “Exciting things are happening at the Woodstock Playhouse. Stay tuned for all the details!” with Cynthia Goldberg listed as President and Roberts as Acting Secretary and Treasurer. The announcement was sponsored by two local businesses.
In a press release Wednesday, November 10 Roberts commented. “As we faced the ultimate in financial difficulties we had the enormous good fortune of meeting and negotiating with another preeminent Ulster County cultural group. The Woodstock Arts Board is proud to announce that the New York Conservatory for the Arts is purchasing the Woodstock Playhouse and has immediate plans to enclose the venue for year round performances. That was always our dream and NYCA can finally bring that dream to fruition. The Woodstock Arts Board will continue to support the Woodstock Playhouse under its new ownership and look forward to working with NYCA to preserve this Woodstock jewel for decades to come.”
Conti requested that all his further comments be held until the legal procedures involved in the transfer of the property be finalized.
NYCA, in addition to its theater and arts workshops, summer camp, and productions at the old Oehler’s Mountain Lodge on Schildknecht Road in West Hurley, runs productions at UPAC in Kingston.
Word is that once renovated, according to the terms of the CWC loan, the revived Woodstock Playhouse, still using its original name, will host not only NYCA productions but other concerts, summer stock, touring shows and rental productions.
We’ll have more on the details, and the full history of NYCA and The Playhouse, when everything finalizes, and formalizes, in the coming weeks. ++