Torn Space Theater interior renovations complete at its performance space on Buffalo’s east side

Empire State Development (ESD) announced that the Torn Space Theater, in partnership with the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Dramatic Circle, has completed a $1.2 million interior and exterior renovation project that is helping transform a significant corner lot in the heart of the Fillmore district. Located just down the street from the Central Terminal, this tremendous cultural asset is now considered a “campus setting”, including:

  • A newly restored building at 608 Fillmore Avenue
  • A state-of-the-art indoor performance space
  • A walkable campus, with reclaimed green space for on-site outdoor performances, public art and community engagement
  • Headlight* design and production studio adjacent to the theater at 612 Fillmore Avenue
Photo by Mark Thomas Duggan

“A vibrant arts and culture industry is essential to any thriving neighborhood, and the Torn Space Theater is a creative performance space that will breathe new life into Buffalo’s East Side,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Revitalizing the arts is essential to our economic recovery and ensuring that all neighborhoods are part of our recovery. The Torn Space Theater has all the makings of an iconic destination and is a great example of Buffalo’s comeback story.

Light/Station was opened in November 2017 as a design studio, gallery, green room and performance space.

“This project is not just an investment in the Torn Space Theater, it is an investment in the entire surrounding community, creating an attractive environment to attract new visitors to the neighborhood while showcasing the rich history of Buffalo’s East Side,” Empire State Development said. Acting Commissioner and President and CEO Designate Eric Gertler. “We congratulate the theater staff and volunteers for completing a project that will be enjoyed and enjoyed for years to come. »

Lighthouse – Image courtesy Torn Space

This last phase of the renovation project – called Hidden identities – is designed by the architectural firm Studio North. The idea behind the project is to “integrate the performance space with the outdoor grounds”, thus creating a dynamic campus. Already, a number of outdoor gatherings and events have taken place on the campus grounds, which also helps create a tangible connection to the ever-diversifying neighborhood.

In addition to all of these new additions and advancements, a historic bar and library are additional resources located on site, which can be used for conferences and community gatherings. The project included restoration of the exterior of the historic Adam Mickiewicz Library and the Drama Circle.

Photo by Mark Thomas Duggan

“The Torn Space Theater is committed to ensuring the long-term viability of the Broadway/Fillmore Historic District,” said Dan Shanahan, Artistic Director of Torn Space Theater, who co-founded the theater with Melissa Meola. “The completion of this construction phase ensures that we will be able to produce and present the best in contemporary performance, host artistic residencies and continue to facilitate meaningful conversations with local and international artists. Torn Space, along with the Adam Mickiewicz Library and Drama Circle look forward to providing a space where the community can engage in thought-provoking performances, lectures and literature while enjoying the authentic Polonia Tavern.

ESD paved the way for the Torn Space Theater to apply for $748,000 from the East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund, which was duly awarded to them. On top of that, $65 million has been spent on the Buffalo Billion Phase II venue-building strategy as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s bid to revitalize the East Side – see the East Side Corridor Economic Development Fund Booklet. And since 2016, KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation have committed more than $225,000 to the project.

Photo by Mark Thomas Duggan

“The renovations to the Torn Space Theater will ensure that this grand facility will continue to be a center of culture and performance on Buffalo’s East Side that people from all parts of Western New York can visit and enjoy,” said said Elizabeth Gurney, director of corporate philanthropy. at KeyBank and Managing Director of the First Niagara Foundation. “KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation are proud to support the revitalization of the Torn Space Theater. We are honored to support this project and others that bring new investment, excitement and opportunity to Buffalo’s East Side.

Photo by Mark Thomas Duggan

Senator Tim Kennedy said, “This investment in the Torn Space Theater and in our greater community will further foster a welcoming and collaborative energy, while preserving this impressive urban corridor. This renovation is a clear example of New York’s ongoing commitment to restoring essential elements of our city’s history and integrating them into Buffalo’s future.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “The Broadway-Fillmore community has always been dear to my heart, as I grew up here and represented the East Side of Buffalo. for decades. I know the value of investing in areas that feel forgotten, which is why I secured $175,000 for Torn Space Theater for the renovation and restoration of the Adam Mickiewicz Library, adjacent land development and construction at 608 Fillmore Avenue, among many other projects. I commend the Torn Space Theater and applaud Empire State Development for their commitment to completing this project, which will have a positive impact on the cultural enrichment and economic development of the community.

Photo by Mark Thomas Duggan

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “After renovations were completed, Torn Space Theater was transformed into a community hub for art, creativity and expression that connects neighborhoods and brings people together. We have seen what art can do to elevate issues, spark dialogue and raise awareness about issues that affect our lives. This investment in the Torn Space Theater brings art and its connection capabilities to the fore and will benefit the entire community.

*Headlight design and production studio adjacent to theater at 612 Fillmore Avenue | Architect Christopher Romano and his firm Studio North (Chris Romano, Daniel Vrana) won two awards from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for transforming the former gas store into a stunning architectural centerpiece for Torn Space.


Change Agents

A community collaboration between Torn Space Theatre, Just Buffalo Literary Center and Lafayette International High School.

  • Dates (wall installation): In progress summer 2021
  • Location: Light/Station, 608 Fillmore Ave. Buffalo, NY 14212; A public mural will be on display at Brayton St and West Utica in the Five Points District
  • Tickets: Free
  • Reservations required:
  • More info and the digital installation:


The original new concept based on the Torn Space Theater site, designed for the Broadway-Fillmore district and for Artpark.

Five songs for Fillmore Avenue

World premiere by Kenneth Collins of the famous company Temporary Distortion.

and the sun sets in golden circles

Torn Space Theater’s annual Early Harvest Ritual in Silo City.

Main image: photo by Mark Thomas Duggan

queen eyes

Newell Nussbaumer is ‘queenseyes’ – Eyes of the Queen City and founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder of the Elmwood Avenue Arts Festival. Co-founder of the Powder Keg Festival which built the largest ice maze in the world (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter party. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator of the Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of retro and vintage market The Peddler on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Launches the Witches’ Ball in Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival and the Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer | [email protected]

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