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Senator Bruno Gets Nice to NYSTI

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The 25-year-old New York State Theatre Institute (NYSTI) moved into a new home Wed., Nov. 1, thanks in part to the efforts of State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

NYSTI has never had a permanent home of its own, and had to vacate its offices recently when a building it had occupied was sold. The Theatre Institute has performed in Russell Sage College's Schacht Fine Arts Center since 1992, an arrangement that will continue. However, the company also needed space for its administrative and educational offices, as well as a box office and a space to build scenery.

After hearing of the company's troubles, Bruno, a Democrat from Rensselaer and part of Saratoga counties, secured $750,000 in state funds to help the theatre company establish a home in a 180-year-old building in Troy.

NYSTI used $350,000 to buy and renovate the four-story building to house the offices and box office, and will use the rest of the allotted money to buy another building for scenery construction.

A bronze plaque was unveiled at the dedication, revealing that the building has been designated the Senator Joseph L. Bruno Center. Bruno spoke at the ceremony, as did Assembly-member Ronald J. Canestrari, Troy Mayor Mark Pattison, and NYSTI Board Chair David Morris and Producing Artistic Director Dr. Patricia Di Benedetto Snyder.

In its quarter of a century, NYSTI has maintained a commitment to developing audiences, international cultural exchanges, and new works that prompted The New York Times to say "it may well prove to be one of the most important theatre institutions in the state, if not the entire country." It has created or premiered more than two dozen plays and musicals, including the William Gibson musical "Rag Dolly," which came to Broadway as "Raggedy Ann," and Paul Shyre's "Hizzoner!," which played Broadway and Moscow and was broadcast on PBS, where it won five Emmy Awards.

It has also received an award from the Center for the Disabled; a Frederick Loewe Award; the American Theatre Association's Jennie Heiden Award for Theatrical Excellence; an American Alliance for Theatre and Education Sara Spencer Award for Sustained Theatrical Excellence; a John F. Kennedy Center Programs for Children and Youth Award; a Zeta Phi Eta Award; and many other commendations and honors. In addition, NYSTI productions have been invited to play at the Vatican, the Jerash International Festival of Culture and Arts in Jordan, the ASSITEJ Festival of international theatre for youth in Lyon, France, the Kennedy Center in Washington, and various other venues in the West End of London, Toronto, Honolulu, and Israel.

For additional information, including details of programs for children as young as three, call (518) 274-3200, e-mail nysti@capital.net, or write to the institute at its new building: 37 First St., Troy, NY 12180.

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