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NJ Comes Closer to Giving Theatres $1M: Paper Mill, Crossroads to Share Proposed Largesse

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The entire New Jersey State Assembly will soon consider a bill to provide badly needed funding to two regional theatres. The appropriations committee passed the bill out of committee Mon., May 1, authorizing a total of $1 million in matching grants to the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn and the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick.

Republican Assemblyman Rich-ard Bagger, who heads the committee, amended the original version of Assembly Bill 2106, which had initially only authorized money for the Paper Mill. Under the amended version both theatres are required to come up with up to $500,000 of "nonstate government fundraising," and the legislature will match that amount.

"I was pleased to support the bill, and I expect it to be considered by the full Assembly later this spring," Bagger told Back Stage.

Paper Mill, the official State Theatre of New Jersey, has said it will use the money for capital improvements like air conditioning and elevator maintenance; Crossroads, the 1999 Tony Winner for excellence in regional theatre, is in the midst of a cash crunch that could threaten its existence.

Although Crossroads officials have said the financial woes will not lead to a shutdown of the theatre, last year it had to cancel a week of scheduled performances, and its website has been shut down for nonpayment. Crossroads management acknowledges it is more than $1 million in debt and says a long-term funding plan for the theatre will be finished by June.

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