Landmark on Main Street Inc. receives transformative state grant

Landmark on Main Street Inc. receives transformative state grant
The Jeanne Rimsky Theater hosts a variety of musical and performing arts shows. (Photo by Steven Sandick)

Landmark on Main Street Inc., located in Port Washington, recently received a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts for $50,000 to put toward capital improvements – specifically a new projector and screen for the Jeanne Rimsky Theater. This is one of three grants the organization was awarded this year.

“We’ve grown a lot over the time, and we’ve made improvements to our technical aspects of the space, but one of the things that’s always lagged behind for us is our projection equipment,” said Richard Mayer, executive director of Landmark on Main Street Inc. “It’s limited us because we can’t really have dedicated movie screenings. We can’ty o do multimedia shows that include projection aspects.”

The grant will provide funding for a projector five times as powerful as their current one, along with a screen that would stretch the entire length of the stage.

“[This] is just going to be totally transformative,” Mayer said. “It really will open up our programming.”

Mayer was particularly excited to be able to work with the Gold Coast Arts Center and the Gold Coast International Film Festival to present high-quality movies to the community.

“This is a great film festival in our neighborhood, we should be able to help support them,” Mayer said. “That was one of the reasons we applied for this grant to get this projector.”

Once the materials have arrived, Mayer expects the installation to take less than a weekend. He expects their next season, which begins in September, to have a whole component involving projection.

Landmark on Main has received two other grants from NYSCA this year. One was for $40,000 over two years to go toward general operating expenses.

The other was for $10,000 to support programming – in particular Landmark’s Afternoon T.E.A. series. These events are aimed at seniors and offer free programming, such as music, movies, presenters or theater troupes, along with tea from a local tea shop called SerendipiTea in Manhasset. The NYSCA grant helps fund the talent that comes to entertain the guests during this series.

“All the seniors in the community can just come and show up,” Mayer said. “Really it started because we have all these seniors in the building and a lot of these folks can be isolated; they might not have any family nearby. So, let’s get them out. Let’s have them interacting. Let’s have them enjoying culture.”

The series has been very successful, and Mayer said they are thankful for the grant to allow them to keep providing quality programming.

“It’s really grown to be one of our flagship series,” Mayer said. “We’re very proud of that series.”

Landmark on Main does not receive tax dollars, so it is heavily reliant on grants for funding – especially large projects and improvements.

“We’ve got to reach out for individual grants over the course of the year and get support where we can,” Mayer said. “This was our most successful year for grants ever in our history and NYSCA, the New York State Council on the Arts, has been incredibly supportive.”

In total, Landmark on Main received $100,000 over the year from NYSCA – which has awarded over $90 million in grants to support the arts in 2023.

“I think they’re really trying to do a lot to help the arts recover after the pandemic,” Mayer said.

The Landmark on Main building was constructed in the early 1900s as a school, and it operated as such for about 80 years, until 1985 when the district thought they no longer needed it.

“They were talking about turning it into a parking lot or condos or all sorts of things,” Mayer said. “A bunch of different community groups got together and said, ‘This building is important to us, and we could use more space for a whole bunch of reasons.’”

Now the building is a historic landmark and holds 59 fixed-income senior apartments, along with three other non-profit organizations aside from the theater.

“The building’s super unique,” Mayer said. “In fact, we’re the only building in New York State zoned the way we are because our zoning was created for this building. There’s literally nothing else like us.”

The Jeanne Rimsky Theater presents mostly music events but will host other performing arts as well.

“It’s a really well-made space, so it’s got really beautiful acoustics and for being a pretty reasonable size, 425 seats, it’s very intimate – all the seats are very close to the artists,” Mayer said. This means that a show that “really focuses on artists that have their instruments and are just really fantastic – like the best in the world with their instruments – that’s what the space is best for.”

The seats in the front of the theater were recently updated so they could be removed, allowing for shows that have a dance component, such as a Grateful Dead cover band or a jazz show.

“That series is doing really well…that’s our best-selling series,” Mayer said. “People really want that component, not only to enjoy the music, but to get up to socialize and to enjoy that sense of community that we lost over COVID.”

Mayer made sure to thank Holly Byrne with the business improvement district, Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte, and New York state Representative Gina Sillitti for letters of support.

“They’re very active and very supportive of landmark,” he said.

More information about Landmark on Main Street Inc. and the Jeanne Rimsky Theater can be found online.

The NYSCA grant will help the theater expand its programming to include movies and multimedia shows. (Photo by Steven Sandick)

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