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Still closed after 2 years, the YMCA ‘needs an angel’ to help reopen The Boulton Center

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The YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts remains closed for over two years since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Long Island.

And its reopening date is still to be determined.

Anne Brigis, president and CEO of the YMCA Long Island, spent a majority of her career in Bay Shore and helped spearhead The Boulton Center’s opening nearly 20 years ago.

So, she says, it’s especially hard for her to see the theater still closed.

The residuals from pandemic shutdowns, during which the theater got no help from the federal government, remain the challenge. “We really need an angel,” Brigis said.

The YMCA Boulton Center was not eligible for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, which helped save many of the country’s theaters, because the Bay Shore venue “is not the YMCA’s principal line of business,” she explained.

Brigis said there have been meetings with potential operators for the old theater, which Frank and Karen Boulton had purchased and gave to the YMCA in 1997. Talks and meetings will continue.

The former Regent Movie Theater at 37 West Main Street, which first opened in 1929, was reconstructed and reopened in 2003, a project that cost $2 million.

Recently, the exterior of the Boulton Center received a fresh paint job, which Brigis said was to keep the “centerpiece of the downtown” looking pristine in the community while it’s still closed.

The big question, Brigis said, is whether the Boulton Center remains financially viable, though the parent group is continually exploring funding opportunities.

“We have different people who are interested in different things,” Brigis said. “Someone is interested in comedy, another is into country music, but you kind of need the whole complement in order to be able to open the doors.”

YMCA leaders are also want to avoid opening the Boulton Center, just to shut it down again.

They’re being cautious. But with so many new apartments being built and Bay Shore’s flourishing downtown, Brigis remains hopeful.

“Between the restaurants and housing being built there, it would be great, it would just have to be the right people, the right players, the right operator to open the doors and knowing the doors will stay open,” Brigis said. “It’s to be continued.”

If anyone is interested in The Boulton Center, please email Anne Brigis at anne.brigis@ymcali.org.

Continue to follow greaterbayshore.com for updates.

Top: File photo of The Boutlon Center’s interior.

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