CORNING, N.Y. (WETM) – After almost a year of ownership, hundreds of hours of work, and tens of thousands of dollars invested in renovations, one Corning organization isn’t giving up its mission to restore a local landmark and bring more art to the community.

The Corning Public Theater, now housed in the historic Masonic Temple, has sat empty for decades and fallen into disrepair. Last summer, an early-August rain storm left the seats and stage in the theater drenched in water.

Wendy Griffin, the Corning Public Theater President, said the organization has made saved the building from the chopping block, but the initial roof repair was just a “band-aid” fix. Since last summer, the Theater has put about $20,000 into a temporary fix for the roof, and volunteers committed more than 440 hours of work to clean the building, Griffin said.

“Now it’s time to go,” Griffin said. “Now it’s time to get that roof replaced and make sure this building will survive.”

Griffin made it clear the Public Theater is passionate about saving the building and finally bringing a performing arts center to downtown Corning, in a county without any similar venue.

“If you want to go see a group that is coming in from outside of Corning, you have to travel to Geneva… to Ithaca, you have to travel outside of Corning to do that,” Griffin said. “We want to bring those people here to perform, so they’re eating in our restaurants, staying in our hotels.”

At the end of the day, Griffin said, the theater is for the artists of the community.

“We saw an opportunity, and we took it,” Griffin explained. “And it’s been a huge learning curve. There are lots of things we thought would be easy that are not. But we are hopeful, and we are forging ahead to get this done and to get the community involved so that this is a place for the community.”

The Corning Public Theater is kicking off a “Raise the Roof” fundraising campaign on July 11 to help raise $250,000 for the renovations, with a $15,000 matching grant. The Theater will also host another seat campaign.

Corning Public Theater