Blog Post #15: Our History: At What Cost - ACADEMY OF MUSIC

By Executive Director Debra J’Anthony

Now in its 3rd season without their city stock company, Northampton Players, the Academy’s community arts and lectures flourished. The Academy now booked two shows in one day, local school bands and drama programs, as well as social clubs. The low cost of rental began to take its toll on the Academy’s bottom line. At the board meeting in October 1922, the board increased rentals for local groups:

“It was voted that in the case of local performances where the Academy is rented for the afternoon as well as the evening, the rent will be One Hundred and Twenty-five Dollars ($125.00) for the evening and Seventy-five Dollars ($75.00) for the afternoon.”

At the December board meeting of 1922, the Minister’s Association was granted use of the theater on Sunday evenings at a price of twenty-five dollars.  Later, in the spring of 1923, a letter from city council was sent to the board through the mayor and noted at the March meeting, requesting “to see if a more reasonable rate may be fixed for the use of the Academy for charitable organizations.”

The Academy had been suffering deep financial losses from low rental rates to local groups and were experiencing increased demands from film distributors.  Here are excerpts from the Academy board letter in response to the Common Council:

“Upon the basis of estimated loss from potential earnings of $125, plus $31.66, actual loss on the orchestra, these [local] performances will have cost the Academy approximately $1,836.”

Furthering the difficulties of accommodating local groups:

“The cost of high class pictures to the exhibitor is constantly increasing all over the country, as is also the number of expensive pictures which the theatres are compelled to take in order to secure the privilege of showing the output of the three or four best picture companies. The question of furnishing dates for these expensive pictures in which they may be shown without actual loss to the theatre, is becoming more and more difficult.”

We now offer affordable rates to our local renters through private donations and grant awards , providing access to many artistic and arts organizations.

Help restore the Academy! We’re replacing the seats in the auditorium, repairing and repainting the ornate plaster, insulating and replacing the stage roof, and adding aisle lighting. Learn more.