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Torn Space renovations seek to provide a 'cultural anchor' for Broadway-Fillmore

Mark Duggan

In the nearly quarter-century since opening on Fillmore Avenue, Torn Space Theater has grown considerably. With its multi-million dollar construction project set to begin this spring, they look to add another asset to the revitalization of one of Buffalo's most historic neighborhoods.

The ambitious effort will eventually create an outdoor performance space, a summer lounge for backyard events, an accessible lobby and entryway to the theater, and other amenities. Most of the work should be completed by fall, with some elements scheduled to finish in 2025.

"What Torn Space is focused on is how can it be a cultural anchor to this neighborhood then work in concert with all the other exciting development that is happening here," said Dan Shanahan, Torn Space Theater and Professor for Entrepreneurial Studies at Daemen University.

During Shanahan's conversation with WBFO, he reflected on the changes in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood since Torn Space took up residence at the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle. He credited an initial surge of change "sparked by local individuals, block clubs, that was being done on a grassroots level."

Eventually, incremental public improvements, some as simple as repairing broken and cracked sidewalks, led to larger public investment on the local and state levels.

"This is an extremely authentic area of our community. It's very much grounded in the residents that live here," Shanahan said.

That energy and that change is bringing more people to the neighborhood. Urban farms are found on nearby side streets. Audiences continue to discover Torn Space's productions. Hundreds gathered on the campus to take part in the recent Dyngus Day celebration.

"This is a vibrant neighborhood and neighborhoods only become more vibrant when people engage with them," Shanahan offered.

"This idea that certain neighborhoods can be passed over or kind of used as a 'drive-thru space' is not going to move things forward."

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Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.