The Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival, which unfolds during summers in the small city of Auburn in the heart of New York state, is one of the largest musical-theater producing organizations in the country, serving 60,000 patrons in just its third year. It grew out of the success of the local Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, which had expanded into a $5 million summer operation with a companion youth-theater program that serves 125,000 students during the school year. The festival operated at three area theaters in its first years, providing Broadway, off-Broadway, and experimental shows in appropriate venues.
Creation of the Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival has been fueled by millions of dollars of support from the local Emerson, Stardust, Schwartz Family, and Allyn foundations, along with individual donors. With a mission of using the arts to generate economic growth across the region, the festival and its philanthropic backers have long-term plans to build an additional theater in the heart of Auburn, and to collaborate with the local community college in expanding theater education for students. The festival is already collaborating with the many local wineries and hospitality businesses across the scenic Finger Lakes region to expand cultural tourism.
- Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival, fingerlakesmtf.com