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The Smith Blog

SMITH HISTORY BLOG AND VIDEO: Saturday Night Fever at the Geneva Theater (1978)

Introduction and video by Karen Miltner

In 1977, the Smith Opera House, then called Geneva Theatre, wasn’t doing too well, as movie-going was in decline. While Geneva Concerts leased the building for the first half of the year, it did not have the resources to maintain a large, historic theater. Geneva Theatre closed in the summer of 1978. The city of Geneva threatened to tear the building down.

Luckily, five idealistic young men rallied together to save The Smith. They were Paul Brown, Steve Hastings, Ken Camera, Dan Belliveau and Jeff Rathaus. They and other members of the community would help form the Finger Lakes Regional Arts Council, the not-for-profit that was the forerunner to the Smith Center for the Arts.

In this video, three of the original five — Steve Hastings, Ken Camera and Dan Belliveau — shared what it was like to show the first movie in the theater when it reopened in September 1978.