Editorial: Northampton Academy of Music singing, dancing again

Published: Monday, January 16, 2012, 6:00 PM     Updated: Monday, January 16, 2012, 6:06 PMBy The Republican Editorials masslive.com

Five years after a near-death experience, the Academy of Music, Northampton’s 19th century theater gem, is alive and kicking, thanks to the hard work of its board of directors and some new-found friends.

The prognosis was quite bleak in January of 2007 as the grand dame of a movie theater seemed poised for its final fade out. The cost of running the municipally owned building – a Main Street landmark since 1890 – had become so onerous that there seemed to be no choice but to shut it down.

But the good people of Northampton and arts lovers and supporters across the valley did not stand idly by to watch the magnificent 800-seat theater stand forlorn.

“The ability of this historic venue to leave its financial woes in the past has truly been a community effort,” said Andrew Crystal, president of the board of trustees.

Plans for its revival focused on live performances rather than first-run movies. The theater partnered with WGBY-TV, Channel 57 in Springfield, which besides helping with fund-raising promised to produce 10 events at the theater each hear. In a matter of a few months, the Academy cut its debt almost in half.

The theater has reached out to form a relationship with the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts School. The city’s Community Preservation Committee has also help fund projects such as replacement of the building’s doors, a new $275,000 roof and installation of a red neon marquee.

Our congratulations to all those who worked to make the theater survive.

Crystal says the theater is not out of the woods just yet. “We need to continue seeking donations.”

But, based on the generosity and never-say-die attitude of arts lovers in the region, we believe the theater has a bright new future.