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Syracuse Stage program gets boost from M&T Bank donation

By Eric Reinhardt (


M&T Bank (NYSE: MTB) has awarded Syracuse Stage a $20,000 grant for a program to help more area residents afford to see a show. Pictured here (from left to right) are Bob Hupp, artistic director of Syracuse Stage; Steve Gorczynski, Central New York regional president of M&T Bank; and Joann Yarrow, director of community engagement and education at Syracuse Stage. (PHOTO CREDIT: SYRACUSE STAGE)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse Stage plans to use a $20,000 grant from M&T Bank (NYSE: MTB) to substantially increase the number of pay-what-you-will performances for each show remaining in its 2022-23 season. 

The funding will allow the organization to provide more opportunities for Central New Yorkers to see live theatre. Syracuse Stage will also use the funding to bring back the Stage for All program. 

The two programs “help ensure all community members have access to high quality live theatre while removing cost as a barrier,” per the Syracuse Stage Nov. 10 announcement.

“There’s nothing like the joy that live entertainment brings. It’s a chance to join with family and friends, to unplug from our screens and to celebrate our vibrant arts community. We are proud to help bring that shared experience to as many members of our community as possible,” Steve Gorczynski, Central New York regional president of M&T Bank, said in the Syracuse Stage announcement.

The M&T Bank pay-what-you-will performance program allows 76 tickets over the course of five days for each production to be available for whatever price patrons wish to pay. 

The pay-what-you-will performances are available on the following dates:

• “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” — Nov. 30 through Dec. 4

• “Espejos: Clean” — Feb. 15 through Feb. 19 

• “Our Town” — March 29 through April 2

• “Tender Rain” — May 3 through 7

• “Clue” — June 7 through 11

Since the pay-what-you-will program’s inception in the 2017-18 season, patrons have purchased more than 1,100 tickets at a price point that community members are able to pay, Syracuse Stage contended. The grant from M&T Bank subsidizes the gap between the actual ticket price and the amount paid for a pay-what-you-will ticket, which averages between $7 and $8. 

“At Syracuse Stage, we believe theatre should be accessible to all,” Bob Hupp, artistic director of Syracuse Stage, said. “Regardless of the barrier to attendance, each of us should be able to enjoy the communal and transformational experience of sharing the intimacy of live theatre. This grant goes a long way in breaking down the barrier of price to our neighbors, and we’re grateful to M&T Bank for its generosity.”

Syracuse Stage cites the organization Americans for the Arts, which says improving access to the arts not only provides benefits to the individual — such as decreased stress levels and social isolation) — but also points to research indicating that the arts have “benefits for communities as a whole.” Americans for the Arts, based in Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit organization that focuses on advancing arts and arts education.

Syracuse Stage also cited a five-year study of low-income Chicago neighborhoods by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that found access to the arts brought 5-10 percent increases in housing, population, and school-test scores, along with decreases in crime.

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