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Studio Arena Turmoil Continues

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Financial trouble is not the only threat to the survival of Studio Arena Theatre. The board and long-time supporters are locked in a battle over what to do about the failing flagship theatre.

Earlier this week, the board was expected to make a formal announcement about plans for the theatre's future. That announcement never came. And theatre staff say they were told by the board not to comment.

But four-time past president and honorary vice chairman Robert Swados broke that silence Thursday. Swados told WBFO News that not everyone is committed to the theatre's survival.

"I've been telling the so-called management of the board that they need people conducting these discussions with the foundations that believe in Studio [Arena] theatre, that can sell it because they know what's involved," said Swados. "Instead, the president has excluded us, excluded people like myself from meeting with the foundations."

Swados, who is not a voting member, said he also does not know exactly how deeply in debt the theatre is because Board President Dan Dintino has given him several different numbers.

Estimates range between one million and nearly four million dollars.

Dintino did not return WBFO's calls for a comment. Swados said that the theatre is also saddled with property leans, that he described as a "bank problem." Still, Swados believes the money needed to salvage the theatre is achievable. But he said, right now some, including the foundations, are creating obstacles.

But Swados said individual donors raised nearly $150,000 over the last two weeks. Swados believes Buffalo's flagship theatre can still be saved. Although he said it might require a delay - or even radical change - in operations.

Swados said the board is expected to meet early next week to consider alternatives. He would not say whether or not that includes a formal request for some or all board members to step down.

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