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Our opinion: The show must go on

Once again Warren is blazing a path for Chautauqua County to follow.

This time, the path is public entertainment assemblies as Warren’s Struthers Library Theater reopens for movies and shows starting with showings of The Sandlot last week. Additional July events include the Warren Players performing Frog and Toad from July 16 to 19 and the movie The Dark Side of the moon July 29 and 31.

The theater’s schedule for the rest of the year is a little different than it is in some years. There aren’t national acts — COVID-19 attendance restrictions don’t allow the size crowd needed to bring in such performers without bankrupting the theater.

Wendy McCain, Struthers Library Theater executive director, told our Brian Ferry that theater officials have looked for smaller shows in order to keep ticket costs down while providing a night out for those who want to attend. Some shows originally had one performance but have added a second performance to allow more people to see the show while remaining within state guidelines for gatherings. Only by seeing how many show up will theater officials know if the shows are financially viable. Only by seeing if COVID-19 infections increase will people know for sure that going to the arts in our small communities is safe.

In addition to providing access to performing and visual arts, smaller venues like the Struthers Library Theater are important components of any city’s tourism market, generating spinoff business for restaurants on performance nights and bringing much-needed evening traffic into a downtown.

Restaurants in Warren, Dunkirk and Jamestown rely on cultural events to provide an influx of business on otherwise slow evenings.

The Struthers Library Theater’s first month of shows are important happenings within the region. Our neighbors to the north, once again, are watching and waiting.

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