WAMC New England News
12:26 pm
Wed July 22, 2009

Theater's Impact on Berkshires

Berkshire County – The summer theater season is in full swing in the Berkshires. Though all of the major play houses are at full tilt, they're still trying to make up for a slow start to the year. In the first of a three part series on the Berkshire theater season, Charlie Deitz reports on how the local theaters serve as economic engines for their home towns, but their surrounding communities and businesses as well.

Paul Lovegreen is the owner of Tunnel City Coffee on the bottom of Spring Street in Williamstown's downtown district, he speaks about the impact the Williamstown Theater Festival has had on his business. Lovegreen says this year has been slow, like it has for many retailers, so he's relying on a good season at the theater to put tunnel city back in the black. He even extended his Sunday hours for an event called Sundays at 6.

Local theaters don't just bring in theater goers, some local play houses bring in hundreds of workers and apprentices for the summer season, and those people need to buy stuff too.

In Pittsfield, the Barrington Stage is one of the major draws for theater goers. Douglass Luf is co-owner of neighboring restaurant Jae's Spice. He says his establishment has a healthy relationship with Barrington Stage, and the theater crowd is a reliable part of his business plan. Luf is also a Pittsfield resident, and says Barrington Stage and the many other cultural offerings are starting to make a difference on Pittsfield's North Street.

Pittsfield's Mayor James ruberto has made the arts part of his master plan for the city's survival. He says the arts offerings also help to give people another reason to live and work in the area.