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Rochester wants money to study theater 

The City of Rochester is asking the state for $270,000 to study the possibility of building a new performing arts center downtown. Mayor Lovely Warren says that the city has applied for funding through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. The city would contribute $30,000 toward the study.

The study would look at the economic impact of a new performing arts center, best locations, how the center would fit with the rest of Rochester's arts scene, what kind of subsidy would be required, and other factors, Warren says.

If funded, the feasibility study would take place right away, she says. The city has also formed an exploratory committee to look at the possibility of a new performing arts center, she says.

Warren has consistently advocated for an arts center downtown, and Rochester Broadway Theatre League would be the likely candidate to program it. RBTL owns and operates the Auditorium Theatre on East Main Street, but that facility is no longer suitable, say RBTL officials. The subpar performance space keeps Rochester from getting top-tier shows, they say.

RBTL had looked at the Medley Centre project in Irondequoit as a potential location for a new theater. But that project is mired in financial, political, and legal muck; it seems unlikely that it will ever get off the ground.

The Finger Lakes council is one of 10 regional councils created by Governor Andrew Cuomo to compete for state funding based on long term regional priorities. Up to $750 million will be available in total this year, according to a state website.

Applications for state funding are being accepted until June. Finger Lakes council members will prioritize the applications, and then send the whole package on to the state, which makes the awards.

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