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Project Updates

Holyoke Development and Government Relations Committee on 6/6/2024

MIFA Victory Theatre Executive Artistic Director Don Sanders, Victory Theatre Project Manager Susan Palmer, Matt Jacobs Barr & Barr Construction Manager, Brad Foster Accountant, Fleur Kuhta Administrative Assistant present to the Committee in response to community questions about the Victory Theatre Project.

Development and Government Relations Committee contact page:

Item 5: 2-6-24 From David Weinberg, communication regarding Victory Theater

Item 6: 6-4-24 MiFA response to Mr. Weinberg's letter and addendums


🚨Exciting News: Action at the Victory Theatre🚨

MIFA Victory Theatre Project Construction Team, architects Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels (DBVW), and project construction team Barr & Barr have devised a strategy for the next steps in the Victory Theatre restoration and set forth a plan of action. Here is what has been completed so far:

Drone Photos by Odeh Engineers

Construction Team:

Rivet Roofing

Ryan LLC

Odhe Engineering

Newsletter April 26, 2024:

Newsletter December 8, 2024:

Newsletter November 14, 2024:

We will be keeping you updated as the action unfolds...

Stay Tuned!





HOLYOKE, MA - MIFA Victory Theatre is excited to announce the Victory Theatre’s historic murals restoration project is complete. Expert restorationists Evergreene Architectural Arts of New York City fully restored the two 23-foot-tall Vincent Maragliotti WPA murals on April 8, 2024. Evergreen’s team moved the murals back to Holyoke masterfully implementing and overseeing their protective storage where they will await reinstallation.  The mural's completion is a key step in bringing us closer to a reopened theater.  A future public exhibition of the completed murals is in development, stay tuned. 

“What a wonderful achievement for MIFA and the City of Holyoke. A significant piece of the city’s history has been preserved for future generations. The mural restoration represents a terrific cooperation between MIFA and the Community Preservation Act Committee, among other donors, and a special shoutout should go to Kip Foley and Meagan Magrath (CPA Committee Chairs), and their committees, and to Michael J. Sullivan for making this happen.” 

-  Don Sanders, MIFA Executive Artistic Director

Full Press Release here: Restoration Complete



Holyoke holds 3rd annual ‘Doors Open’ event to celebrate 150th anniversary

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - This month marks Holyoke’s 150th year anniversary. The city celebrated Saturday by hosting the 3rd annual Doors Open Holyoke event. It began this morning around 9 a.m. and wrapped up at noon.

Doors Open invites the community to see behind the doors of places not usually open to the public.

It connects residents to local places of historical, cultural, and architectural significance. This year, some of the locations included in this event were the Victory Theatre, H.H. Richardson Station, the Holyoke Fire Department, and more.

Copyright 2023. Western Mass News (WGGB/WSHM). All rights reserved.


MIFA Victory Theatre announces a $1 million grant from community philanthropists!

Long-time MIFA supporters John and Elizabeth Armstrong recently pledged a

$1 Million Dollar Gift to the Victory Theatre Project!

"The generosity the Armstrongs have shown MIFA Victory Theatre is beyond words. They bestow such uplifting support for the arts in our community, and MIFA is lucky to call them friends." - Donald Sanders


Summer Soirée

On Wednesday, July 26, 2023, a summer soirée was held at the home of MIFA friends Betsy and Bruce McInnis in honor of MIFA Victory Theatre.


Consulate General of France in Boston Tours the Victory


Victory Theatre Mural Exhibit

This muralist lifted Holyoke’s spirits during World War II; the fight today is to bring his works back to life, By Dennis Hohenberger | Special to The Republican, Updated: Mar. 10, 2023, 11:31 a.m. | Published: Mar. 08, 2023, 6:41 p.m., Photo Gallery

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Donald Sanders, with flashlight, executive artistic director of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, leads area legislators on a tour of the old Victory Theater in Holyoke that is underoing restoration. . (Don Treeger / The Republican)

Holyoke Victory Theater project gets support from Western Massachusetts legislators

Updated: Jan. 23, 2023, 7:28 p.m. | Published: Jan. 23, 2023, 7:21 p.m.\

HOLYOKE – “This isn’t a Holyoke project. It’s a Western Massachusetts regional project,” Mayor Joshua A. Garcia told a delegation of state legislators who visited the long-shuttered Victory Theater today. “I’m hoping we can be strategic and specific and focused as possible to figure out how to close (the funding) gap.” READ MORE

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Victory Theater tour brings hope for Holyoke arts, economic development

WWLP22 News, January 23, 2023

Mayor Joshua Garcia of Holyoke explored one of his city’s most pleasant possibilities on Monday.


Holyoke pledges $2 million to Victory Theatre toward ‘epic’ return

Jan. 3, 2023 | Trent Levakis

State Sen. John Velis talks about collaboration for the Victory Theatre project alongside State Rep. Patricia Duffy (center left), Mayor Joshua Garcia (left) and Project Manager Susan Palmer (right). Reminder Publishing photo by Trent Levakis

HOLYOKE – Efforts to renovate and reopen Holyoke’s Victory Theatre gained a key bonus from Mayor Joshua Garcia and the city of Holyoke as the mayor announced an additional $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding will go toward the project. READ MORE


Year In Review

By George O'Brien, December 23, 2022

Victory Theatre Project Gains Momentum

Holyoke officials and groups involved with the arts have been engaged in efforts to try to revitalize the historic Victory Theatre for more than 40 years now. And while this initiative still has a ways to go before it can cross the goal line, some significant progress was seen this past year. READ MORE


Holyoke pitching in $2M for Victory Theatre redevelopment

Published: 12/23/2022 2:37:41 PM

The Victory Theatre restoration project received a $2 million boost this week when Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia announced that the city would allocate $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act money. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

HOLYOKE — The ambitious, $61 million effort to reopen the Broadway-style Victory Theatre moved $2 million closer to becoming reality this week after the city made a significant commitment of American Rescue Plan Act money for the project in its downtown. READ MORE

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Holyoke using $2M for Victory Theatre project

Posted: Dec 22, 2022 / 03:00 PM EST | Updated: Dec 22, 2022 / 11:14 PM EST

A news conference was held in the Mayor’s Office at Holyoke City Hall Thursday with State Representative Pat Duffy, State Senator John Velis and the team from the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) to share updates on the Victory Theatre restoration project.

The Suffolk Street 1,600-seat theatre dates back to the 1920s and has been closed since 1979.

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Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia pledges $2 million in federal COVID relief funding for Victory Theatre Project

Updated: Dec. 22, 2022, 9:19 p.m. | Published: Dec. 22, 2022, 6:32 p.m.

Donald Sanders, of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, and Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia announce $2 million in funding for the Victory Theatre project. Stefany Garcia joins them at the podium.

HOLYOKE — Mayor Joshua A. Garcia pledged $2 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid for the Victory Theatre restoration project, a renewed effort to reopen the 1,600-seat venue once considered a “crown jewel.” READ MORE

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December 22, 2022

Contact: Linda Matys O’Connell

Cell: 610-295-3125

Holyoke Mayor Pledges ARPA Funding

for Victory Theatre Project

“The return of the Victory Theatre will be epic”

HOLYOKE, MA – In another milestone of momentum for the effort to reopen the historic MIFA Victory Theatre in downtown Holyoke, Mayor Joshua A. Garcia announced his commitment of $2 million to the project through the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding process. Citing thoughts he said are “swirling around” the community campaign to reopen the theater – “crown jewel, cultural enrichment, community engagement, downtown revitalization, energy” – Garcia said, “The return of the Victory Theatre will be epic.”

The Victory Theatre is an iconic 1,600-seat Broadway-style theater in downtown Holyoke opened in 1920 and closed in 1979 as the fortunes of the formerly industrial city declined. Since acquiring the derelict building from the city of Holyoke in 2009, the non-profit Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) has been leading the effort to preserve, expand and transform the historic theater as the fortunes of the city improve.

“MIFA is grateful to Mayor Garcia for having the vision to see how the Victory Theatre can be a transformative part of Holyoke’s recovery from the pandemic and vision for a bright future,” said Donald T. Sanders, MIFA’s executive artistic director. “Retrofitted with 21st- century technology and put back into service as a state-of-the-art regional performing arts center, the magnificent theater will be an engine for urban revitalization, economic development, and civic pride and health,” Sanders said. “MIFA is privileged to participate in bringing Mayor Garcia’s vision to fruition.”

According to Sanders, a veteran producer and director, the reopened Victory will re-establish Holyoke as a compelling center of arts and culture. “The MIFA Victory Theatre will draw more than 60,000 visitors a year, generate more than $6 million a year in direct and audience spending, create new jobs, foster new businesses, provide unique workforce development and career opportunities, increase educational enrichment, and drive meaningful community engagement,” he said.

The reopened Victory will enable Holyoke to become the cultural epicenter of Western Massachusetts for touring Broadway musicals, plays and special international events. With thousands of patrons from across the state, upstate New York and New England annually, Sanders noted, “The economic impact will ripple throughout the Pioneer Valley region.”

Mayor Garcia sounded a theme of urgency as well as support for the $61 million project, saying that now is the “ninth inning” and “eleventh hour.” Given the unprecedented availability of federal recovery funds, he observed: “The time to wrap this thing up is now. Because there’s not going to be a better time. Or another time. The campaign is at a critical stage. For the first time in a long time, we can see the finish line. But we have to cross it.”

Optimism prevails, according to Garcia and Sanders. "Let's make Victory ours," said Garcia.

In the last legislative session, the Victory project received a total of $1.05 million in ARPA and other funding through the efforts of state Rep. Patricia Duffy and state Sen. John Velis. A community capital campaign with a goal of $10 million is in gear and on target. The fundraising results on Giving Tuesday were three times the donation total in past years, and planning is underway for many other awareness and fundraising events. A growing number of influential community, business and government leaders are working on three active MIFA Victory Theatre teams. Outreach to the state legislature and the new gubernatorial administration is ramping up.

To assist in a rigorous push, MIFA retained national theater development expert Susan Palmer, CEO of the Palmer Westport Group, to undertake a feasibility planning study in 2022, to guide the robust ongoing capital campaign and to act as project management. As an outgrowth of that work, MIFA and Mayor Garcia are collaborating on enhanced community involvement in raising awareness and enthusiasm, engaging regional expertise, and encouraging the state to close the funding gap to begin construction.

MIFA and Mayor Garcia have convened three teams to fulfill those goals:

The Victory Theatre Community Fundraising Strike Team

Mayor Garcia convened a Victory Theatre Community Fundraising Strike Team composed of respected business and community leaders chaired by his wife, Stefany Garcia, Family Access and Engagement Coordinator for the Holyoke Public Schools. The team members have knowledge of the needs of Holyoke and the region and the capacity to aid the public in understanding of the expansive civic and economic benefits of a restored Victory Theatre. The team works with MIFA staff to provide visibility, create enthusiasm, fundraise and confirm the community’s desire to support the project.

Team chair Stefany Garcia is excited about the full range of benefits the Victory will bring to the community. As an educator she cites, in particular, the benefits for students that will flow from the theater’s educational programming. “Research shows that arts education and arts participation by students promotes the welfare of the next generation by supporting the development of critical learning skills, higher achievement outcomes, graduation rates and college attendance,” she said.

The Community Strike Team recently raised $11,750 dollars for the Victory on Giving Tuesday, unlocking a $10,000 matching contribution from WinnDevelopment and threw a sold-out Holiday Pub Crawl sponsored by the regional Latino Economic Development Corporation and Springfield businessman Cesar Ruiz. More events are in the planning stages.

Also serving on the community team is Elaine Vega, Vice President, Housing Management Resources, Inc., and a community activist. “I am so excited to join in carving a path for this historical gem, which aims for nothing less than cultivating true, deep community through the power of culture and the arts,” she said. “More than an extraordinary historical building, Victory Theatre will be a vibrant arts and culture center, bringing our communities together and celebrating our rich diversity.”

The Victory Theatre Entrepreneurial Strike Team

An operating Victory Theatre will provide a large base of customers eager to patronize nearby businesses. To fully leverage this opportunity, the Entrepreneurial Strike Team is developing an intentional, strategic effort to provide support and assistance to entrepreneurs, businesses and building owners who will benefit from the opportunities in the vicinity of the Victory Theatre, ensuring downtown redevelopment.

Chaired by Holyoke Director of Planning and Economic Development Aaron Vega, the team includes two former OPED directors with government and business leaders, including Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, executive director of business incubator EforAll Holyoke and Holyoke city councilor, and Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jordan Hart.

“I am excited to be part of the VTP Entrepreneurial Strike Team because I believe this project aligns with our focus on small businesses, restaurants and entertainment options in Holyoke,” said Vega. “I have personally supported and been invested in this project since being on the City Council when MIFA first acquired the building in 2009, to being state representative supporting a number of their grant allocations, and now as director of Office of Planning and Economic Development supporting this transformative project for our city and region.”

The Entrepreneurial Team is currently planning a January 23 gathering of business and building owners to discuss the project and share hopes and concerns for the Victory Theatre area. The goal is to build productive relationships and energize mutually beneficial, collaborative development.

Serving on this team is Jeff Hayden, Vice President, Business & Community Services at Holyoke Community College and a former Holyoke Director of Planning and Economic Development. “The Victory is a chance to reclaim Holyoke’s past while bolstering its future,” Hayden said. “By bringing more people downtown, stimulating more jobs, generating tax revenue, it will make a huge difference. I’ve always seen the restoration of the Victory Theatre as a key element of the continued redevelopment of Holyoke and downtown Holyoke, specifically. When I look at what we have – the Children’s Museum, the Merry-go-Round, the Volleyball Hall of Fame, Wistariahurst, and a world-class public library – the Victory will complement all those assets.”

Kathy Anderson is the third former director of Planning and Economic Development on the team. In addition to the economic benefits of the Victory, Anderson said, “It's a place to experience culture, and it will be for generations to come. There are all the things the arts bring to people’s lives – quality of life, expanding your horizons, being able to get dressed up in some finer clothing and to experience other people interested in those kinds of things. And the benefit goes beyond the people going to the performances to all the people involved behind the scenes.”

The Victory Theatre Building Committee

The Victory Theatre Building Committee is working with MIFA on the preconstruction and construction phases of the restoration of the Victory building and the addition of its annex. The committee helps monitor the work of architects, finance advisers, MIFA’s owner’s representative/construction manager, engineers and contractors, ensuring that the project meets the agreed upon budgets and goals. It will continue to monitor the maintenance of the operating facility.

The Building Committee is chaired by former Holyoke State Rep. Michael Kane, now with Eversource Community Relations. Kane is eager to see the project begin restoration and construction. Considering the long development period, he observed: “A long timeline for a significant project of this nature is not surprising. This is a heavy undertaking.”

Committee member Don Humason, former state senator, mayor of Westfield and current Chester town administrator, said “I met with Don Sanders and toured the Victory Theatre right after I was elected to the State Senate in 2013. You only have to see the Victory to fall in love with it, to see the potential not only for Holyoke but for the region in terms of culture, education and economic development. Talk about a multiplier effect.”

He added: “They don’t make theaters like that anymore with those classic bones, and the plans that have been drawn up for its renovation are extraordinary. It’s good to see ARPA money being spent on something real like this.”


Mayor Garcia’s Victory Theatre Community Strike Team

CHAIR: Stefany Garcia, wife of Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia; Family Access and Engagement Coordinator, Holyoke Public Schools


Ari Berezin, Mt. Holyoke Management

Gloria Caballero-Roca, educator and community activist

Rory Casey, Holyoke Treasurer

Patti Devine, former Holyoke City Councilor

Joe Charles Mazzola, owner, Paper City Fabrics

Andrew Melendez, Director/Founder, Latino Economic Development Corporation

Priscilla Rivera, co-owner, City Sports Bar, Holyoke

Cesar Ruiz, President & CEO, Golden Years Home Services

Melvin Sanchez, business development, Full Power Radio

Elizabeth Simpson, Director of Grants & Philanthropy, Holyoke Public Schools

Elaine Vega, Vice President, Housing Management Resources, Inc.

Monica Velez, co-owner, Jibaritos Sports Club


CHAIR: Aaron Vega, Holyoke Director of Planning & Economic Development; former State Representative, 5th Hampden (2012-2020)


Kathy Anderson, Holyoke community leader, former Holyoke Director of Planning & Economic Development

Delcie Bean, Founder & President, Tech Foundry; Founder & CEO, Paragus Strategic IT

Jeff Bianchine, Managing Director, The Print Shop, Inc., former Holyoke Creative Industries Coordinator

Jordan Hart, Executive Director, Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce

Jeff Hayden, Vice President, Business & Community Services, Holyoke Community College; former Holyoke Director of Planning & Economic Development

Jennifer Keitt, Development Specialist, Holyoke Office of Planning & Economic Development

Matthew Mainville, Executive Director, Holyoke Housing Authority

Tessa Murphy-Romboletti, Executive Director, EforAll Holyoke; Holyoke city councilor


CHAIR: Michael Kane, Eversource, Community Relations; former State Representative, 5th Hampden (2001-2012)


Priscilla Chesky, Esq., Lyon & Fitzpatrick

Carl Eger, Vice Chair, Holyoke Redevelopment Authority Board of Directors

Don Humason, Chester Town Administrator; former Westfield Mayor and former State Senator, 2nd Hampden & Hampshire District (2013-2020)

Dr. Alfred Hutt, retired

Bill Johnson, President & CEO, Hampshire Towing

Susan Knightly, President, Ferry Hill Management


Jordan Hart, Executive director, Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce

Entrepreneurial Strike Team

“Not only is the Victory Theatre a historic asset, but upon completion it will be an economic anchor for businesses, enhance Holyoke’s growing nightlife, and bring thousands of people to spend money in our city throughout the year. For the Chamber, it will be an opportunity to better promote our city as a vibrant business community, and to promote and hold events. It will be a great connecting point to further business connections.”

Jeff Bianchine, Managing Director, The Print Shop, Inc., Holyoke; former Holyoke Creative Economy Industries Coordinator

Entrepreneurial Strike Team

“Everyone seems to forget that the creative economy in Massachusetts is the third largest in the country and one in six workers in Western Mass. works in creative fields – one of the highest ratios in the country. The arts is huge business, an economic driver. The Victory is a no-brainer. If you’re not working it, you’re going to go enjoy it.”

Bill Johnson, CEO, The Johnson Groups

Building Committee

“Although I am not a Holyoke native, I have a great appreciation of Holyoke and its history. Bringing the Victory Theatre to its former glory will bring visitors to Holyoke and the surrounding communities. The patrons of the Victory theater will be a primer for the economic revitalization of the area.”

Elaine Vega, Vice President, Housing Management Resources, Inc.

Community Fundraising Strike Team

“The Victory will be a place for opera, ballet, modern dance, theater and music representing all cultures and styles. A space where everyone is welcome, and where everyone in the greater Holyoke region knows that they belong. We will be lauded as a national model, where the rest of the country will come to experience programming that is unique and inspiring.”

Kathy Anderson, former director of the Holyoke Office of Planning and Economic Development

Entrepreneurial Strike Team

“I was very much involved with MIFA’s 2004 Holyoke presentation of international ballet star Mikhail Barshnikov at the War Memorial. I saw 1,100 people pour out onto the streets after a performance. I saw there was a market for people not only from Holyoke but also from the surrounding area to come to downtown Holyoke for arts and culture. And when they left, they were all dressed up and looking for places to go.”

- END -


Holiday Pub Crawl looks to fundraise for Victory Theatre

By Trent Levakis | Dec. 12, 2022

HOLYOKE – There will be a Holiday Pub Crawl in the city of Holyoke on Dec. 17 to help with fundraising efforts for the Victory Theatre restoration.

For just $30 per person, tickets are available for the fundraising pub crawl through Holyoke that will cover transportation, food and a Victory Theatre souvenir.

The event starts at 4:30 p.m. at The Clubhouse on 209A South St. to prepare for the crawl itself. At 5:45 p.m., the bus leaves for the Pub Crawl through the city and will stop at local spots like City Sports, Brennan’s, The Clover and Pic’s Pub.


Donald Sanders, executive artistic director of MIFA Victory Theatre

Momentum Is Building On Victory Theatre Project By George O'Brien November 10, 2022

The Next Stage

When asked how many tours he’s given of the Victory Theatre in Holyoke, the landmark that went dark in 1979, Donald Sanders gave a hearty laugh — something he does often — and just shook his head. That was his way of saying ‘more than I could count.’

Those tours have been given to elected officials, economic-development leaders, city department heads, arts groups, members of the media … you name it. They’ve all been in for a look at this piece of history that a city, and a region, have been desperate to renovate and make a part of the future, not merely the past. . .READ MORE


Episode 136: November 14, 2022

BusinessTalk with Donald Sanders, executive artistic director of MIFA Victory Theatre . . . Listen Now


Holyoke officials, Victory Theater board visit Schenectady, New York, Proctors Theatre for ideas, inspiration

By Dennis Hohenberger | Special to The Republican

Published: Oct. 30, 2022, 7:01 a.m.

Holyoke city officials and the Victory Theater board visit the Proctors Theater in Schenectady, New York.

Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia, Donald Sanders, who helms the Victory Theater project for the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA), Aaron Vega, the city’s planning director, and members of the MIFA board traveled to New York state to tour Schenectady’s theater complex on Oct. 13 ...READ MORE


Celebrating an uplifting tour of the Victory Theater with Friends from the offices of

Senator Edward J. Markey, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, state Senator John Velis, state Representative Pat Duffy, Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. So much energy in the air for the future.


Maura Healey Tours Victory Theatre!

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Reminder Publishing photo by G. Michael Dobbs

Abandoned theaters provide economic development to cities

June 27, 2022 | G. Michael Dobbs

"Don Sanders the executive director of MIFA, said The Victory’s restoration back to a Broadway-style theater could mean the theater would be a stop for touring shows and draw a potential 70,000 people to the Paper City. That’s economic development for sure. " READ MORE


Gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey visited the Victory Theater on June 22

June 27, 2022 | G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE – In her first campaign swing through Western Massachusetts since the Democratic Party Convention, Attorney General Maura Healey picked up four endorsements from Holyoke officials and spoke about several priorities while visiting The Victory Theater... READ MORE

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Healey gets backing in trip to Paper City

Published: 6/23/2022 7:39:15 PM Following her press conference, Healey — like nearly every politician who has come to the city before her — toured the Victory Theatre. The 100-year-old theater, which closed in 1979, received its latest bit of funding in December when it got $250,000 from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act. Garcia described the theater as an “anchor organization” for the revitalization of downtown, hopefully bringing in other development to the area once it opens.

“This place, when it is finally up and running, will be for everyone,” McGee said...READ MORE

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Maura Healey makes Holyoke campaign stop...

Jun. 23, 2022, 1:11 p.m.

HOLYOKE – Gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey gained the endorsement of Mayor Joshua A. Garcia and elected officials during a Wednesday campaign stop in Holyoke, which included the attorney general visiting the Victory Theater...READ MORE

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Gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey makes campaign stop in Holyoke

by: Kristina D'Amours, WWLP 22News Jun 22, 2022 / 09:56 PM, Updated: Jun 23, 2022 / 05:28 AM EDT

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is running for governor, paid a visit to the City of Holyoke earlier Wednesday afternoon on one of her campaign stops in western Massachusetts.

Healey was at the Victory Theatre in Holyoke to connect with voters and to tour the facility that is being revitalized. There she spoke about the housing crisis across the state and hopes to boost housing production if she were elected...READ MORE

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Healey campaigns in Western Mass...

By Kate Selig Globe Correspondent,

June 22, 2022, 8:27 p.m.

HOLYOKE - Attorney General Maura Healey took her campaign for governor to Western Massachusetts on Wednesday, picking up endorsements from local officials and emphasizing her commitment to economic development across the state.

“Every region is deserving of its own particular support and amplification, and I look forward to having the opportunity to serve the people of Western Massachusetts,” said Healey, a Democrat and the front-runner in the gubernatorial race.

She spoke at the historic Victory Theatre, located in the city’s downtown. The 1,600-seat Broadway-style theater was first built in 1920 and has been vacant since 1979. City officials are now looking to the theater, with a restoration cost in the tens of millions, as a potential source of economic revitalization for Holyoke and the region...READ MORE


Holyoke’s Victory Theater using ARPA grant to switch to electric heat

Jun. 21, 2022, 5:03 a.m.

HOLYOKE — The Victory Theater will use COVID relief funds to switch from natural gas to electric heating.

Donald Sanders, artistic director of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, which owns the historic building, updated the City Council’s Public Service Committee on the restoration project Thursday...READ MORE





Yes, there’s a governor’s race underway. And yes, it affects you. No matter who you are or what you do (as long as you’re in or around Mass, of course, which we kind of assume is the case if you’re reading this)...READ MORE

“The next governor of Massachusetts will exercise critical leadership during this time of unprecedented need related to the health and well-being of our residents, families, students, and businesses of all sizes,” said Linda Matys O’Connell, Government and Community Relations Coordinator at the MIFA Victory Theatre in Holyoke and CTVMA Coalition member. “The arts, culture, and creative sector is vital to addressing these needs with its power to drive community connection and economic growth and opportunity.”

The Victory Theatre

Updated April 20, 2022

By Matthew Christopher

A panorama of the Victory Theatre in Holyoke, MA shows the graceful sweep of the balcony.

Envisioned in 1912 to accommodate 1,600 patrons, the Victory Theatre was designed by architects Mowell & Brown for the Goldstein Brothers Amusement Company. It opened its doors to the public on December 30, 1920 with a gala event featuring singing vaudeville acts and the “Super-Photoplay ‘The Furnace’” directed by William Desmond Taylor. All proceeds from the day were donated to the city hospital and House of Providence Hospital. The Goldsteins had made their fortune through nickelodeons, which were small neighborhood theaters showing films in storefronts, and the Victory Theatre was their entry into the big leagues. Named after the recent Allied victory in World War I, not only was the Victory the last theater built in Holyoke, it was also one of the finest. READ MORE & View Slideshow

The Victory Theatre is a chapter in my book, Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream.


December 29, 2021 - Victory tour with newly elected Holyoke City Councilors.


ARPA Funding Articles

Holyoke’s Victory Theatre receives $250K in COVID relief funds

Donald T. Sanders, executive director of the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA), stands in Holyoke’s Victory Theatre, which MIFA plans to restore. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

By STEVE PFARRER Staff Writer Published: 12/23/2021 3:27:27 PM

HOLYOKE — Efforts to restore the 100-year-old Victory Theatre in Holyoke have received a significant boost: $250,000 in funding from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA . . . READ MORE

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Holyoke Victory Theater renovation awarded $250K in American Rescue Plan Act funding

Donald Sanders, Massachusetts Festival of the Arts artistic director, stands in the balcony of the Victory Theater in Holyoke on March 31. Efforts to renovate the theater are moving forward. (Don Treeger / The Republican file photo)

Published: Dec. 16, 2021, 6:02 p.m.

HOLYOKE — The Victory Theater renovation project has gotten a $250,000 boost thanks to a new state law allocating federal COVID-19 relief funds... READ MORE


November 23, 2021 - Victory Theatre open house for Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce Power Hour event!


Nov. 16, 2021 | Carolyn Noel, The Reminder

HOLYOKE – In 2009, the Holyoke City Council handed over ownership of the historic Victory Theater to the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA). Since then, MIFA has been making steady progress to turn the theater into a 21st-century performance center... READ MORE


Doors Open Holyoke!

Come take a peek inside Holyoke's last remaining Broadway-sized historic theater!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Tours at 1PM, 2PM, & 3PM

Free Registrations is required, visit

Please see Safety Protocols for all guidelines


September 20, 2021 - SVOG Spotlight: Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts,, Local Assistance, District Office List, Massachusetts District Office, Success Stories

"Executive Artistic Director Don Sanders leads MIFA, which has been a catalyst in providing an outlet to young people interested getting involved in the arts."


August 17, 2021 - Tour of the Victory with State Representative Jake Oliveira, Ayanna Crawford, aide to State Rep. Orlando Ramos.


GAZETTENET.COM - Downing touts Holyoke’s Victory Theatre renovation

HOLYOKE — Stepping into the shadowy lobby of the historic Victory Theatre...READ MORE

By DUSTY CHRISTENSEN, Staff Writer, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Published: 8/11/2021 4:46:39 PM



August 11, 2021 - Victory tour with Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Senator Ben Downing.


August 10, 2021 - Victory Theatre tour with Juan Falcon, Executive Director of the Hispanic-American Library in Springfield, MA.


August 7, 2021 - Street Art

Victory Theatre Image on Downtown Holyoke Traffic Light Utility Box

We are excited to have the Victory Theatre's image chosen for the Summer Evening Youth Program street art murals by Enlace de Familias and Nueva Esperanza, Inc.! Come check out artist Jeff Marcil's (Allest Arts) 1930s inspired #VictoryTheatre mural and the progress of the youth painters on Cabot and Main in downtown #Holyoke.

Special thanks to Betty Medina Lichtenstein (Enlace de Familias) and Chloe Soto (Nueva Esperanza)!


Across Massachusetts, there have been 244 grants awarded.

The full list of western Massachusetts recipients appears below:

  • Agawam Cinemas, Agawam - $49,815

  • Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, Becket - $1,492,373

  • Chester Theatre Company, Chester - $81,357

  • Public Emily, Inc., Conway - $193,779

  • Stationery Factory Events, Dalton - $132,652

  • Luthier’s Co-Op, Easthampton - $134,398

  • Berkshire Choral International, Great Barrington - $525,735

  • Berkshire International Film Festival, Great Barrington - $47,713

  • Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington - $296,530

  • Shaw Entertainment Group, Great Barrington - $99,114

  • Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, Holyoke - $491,035

  • Athlone Artists, Lenox - $15,187

  • Edith Wharton Restoration, Lenox - $184,493

  • WAM Theatre, Lenox - $43,383

  • Exit Seven Players, Ludlow - $43,996

  • HiLo Holding Company, North Adams - $116,523

  • Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation, North Adams - $2,636,094

  • Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield - $608,989

  • Berkshire Theatre Group, Pittsfield - $923,619

  • Corcoran Productions, Richmond - $28,253

  • PDP Productions, Shelburne - $11,350

  • The Egremont Village Inn, South Egremont - $257,720

  • Triplex Management Corporation, South Egremont - $396,099

  • South Hadley’s Tower Theatres - $167,865

  • Bold New Directors, Southampton - $287,040

  • Cindy Pettibone, Southwick - $52,476

  • Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Springfield - $3,740,728

  • Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield - $285,817

  • Old Sturbridge, Inc., Sturbridge - $2,858,798

  • NV Concepts Unlimited, West Springfield - $1,609,453

  • The Theatre Project, West Springfield - $726,224

  • Community Images Inc, Williamstown - $124,765

  • Williamstown Theatre Foundation, Williamstown - $1,347,489


July 22, 2021 - Victory Tour with Mayoral candidate Joshua Garcia


July 22, 2021 - Victory Tour with Mayoral candidate Diosdado Lopez


July 21, 2021 - Victory Tour with Mayoral candidate Gloria Caballero-Roca


June 30, 2021 - Victory Tour with Mayoral candidate Rebecca Lisi


April 1, 2021 - Victory Tour with Mayoral candidate Billy Glidden


March 9, 2021 - Victory Tour with Mayoral candidate Devin Sheehan


March 31, 2021 - Phase 1 of the Victory Theatre restoration process has begun. Gathering at the site for an update from Don Sanders, MIFA Executive Artistic Director.


MARCH 24, 2021, DEMO DAY! Curran Construction begins demo on 134 Chestnut street building to make room for new Victory Theatre Annex.


MARCH 24, 2021, DEMO DAY! Curran Construction begins demo on 134 Chestnut street building to make room for new Victory Theatre Annex.


Please join us for an update on our progress Wednesday, March 31st – 11 am outside 134 Chestnut Street.  All are welcome. Plenty of room for social distancing.  Please wear a mask.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tick Tick Tick Boom: MIFA Victory Theatre Restoration plans move forward with demolition of 134 Chestnut St. property. HOLYOKE, MA –  March 24, 2021 — MIFA Victory Theatre and Curran Construction begin demolition of the buildings at 134 Chestnut St., Holyoke MA as Phase 1 of the much-anticipated Victory Restoration begins. MIFA Victory Theatre purchased the 134 Chestnut St. property directly adjacent to the theater’s north side in 2019 to replace it with a completely new 14,500 sq ft building, the Victory Theatre Annex. The Annex designed by DBVW Architects will house essential service, facilities management, technical, dressing room, office, and loading dock space unable to be accommodated in the theater’s historic footprint and needed to make the Victory a state of the art 21st-century theater.

“Demolition of 134 is a critical moment in the Victory’s progress. By taking down 134 Chestnut St. we open the possibilities to allow larger theatre companies to come to Holyoke. Everything great about our city will be reflected in the wonderfully restored Victory Theatre. We’ve even saved some beautiful doors from 134 and a fireplace mantel to be installed in the D’Amour Room of the Victory,” said Don Sanders, Executive Artistic Director.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Contact Emily at 413-540-0200 or


February 4, 2021, Victory Tour with Four Trees Holyoke cannabis team


Actress and Holyoke native Ann Dowd remembers watching “Mary Poppins” at the Victory Theatre in Holyoke, Mass. –Globe Archives

“The first movie that I can remember seeing [in a movie theater] was ‘Mary Poppins’ [1964]. When it was over, I didn’t want to leave my seat, I wanted it to start again. There was a little girl crying and her father was holding her because she was so sad that Mary Poppins left at the end. The name of the theater was the Victory Theater in Holyoke, Mass.” — Ann Dowd, Emmy winner, Best Supporting Actress, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” upcoming “Rebecca” remake; born and raised in Holyoke”


Their two projects (International Tennis Hall of Fame and BankNewport) received the 2020 Doris Duke Preservation Awards! DBVW’s outstanding historic preservation work is one of the many reasons we have chosen them to restore the iconic Victory Theatre.


July 27, 2020, Tour with Senator John Velis


The Victory Theatre's roof was recently inspected and had repairs made as part of general upkeep for the building's safety and security. Michelle and Donald D’Amour, shown here at the Big Y corporate offices in Springfield ( Manon Mirabelli photo)

Catalyst Donor Pledge Fulfilled!

Donald D’Amour, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Springfield-based Big Y Foods, Inc., expresses his enthusiasm for the Victory Theatre project:

” As the Catalyst Donor for this project, I have committed significant personal resources to reopen the theater as a regional performing arts center because I believe in its transformative potential, both culturally and as a driver of economic development.” ….. Read More HERE


MIFA Victory Theatre is pleased to announce its acquisition of 134 Chestnut Street in downtown Holyoke, a key development in the Victory’s restoration and reopening. Funding for the 134 Chestnut acquisition was provided through the generosity of the Beveridge Family Foundation, Catalyst Donors Donald and Michele D’Amour, and the Friends of MIFA Victory Theatre. The property, which adjoins the b

ack of the theater was acquired on November 5, 2019…Read More HERE


Arts Beat – MIFA Victory Theatre, December 18, 2019, Westfield News, by Mark G. Auerbach


Music Video at the Victory!

Celebrated dancer and choreographer Sabi Varga, dances to The Well Pennies‘ instrumental piece The Starling off of the new album “Murmurations”. Sabi danced inside The Victory Theater in Holyoke Massachusetts, a theater that is currently being restored back to its former glory. The music video was directed and edited by Michael Vanderpool.

Listen to The Well Pennies on Spotify:…

Sabi Varga


MIFA receives  $100,000.00 Community Preservation Act Grant

Victory Theatre Sconces

On March 13, 2019, the Community Preservation Act Committee (CPAC) voted to recommend the award of the full requested amount of $100,000. This vote was subsequently approved by the City Council on April 2, 2019.  Read: CPA 2019 Award letter

MIFA applied for the restoration of 63 light fixtures that will be cleaned and restored to their original condition and reinstalled into the Victory.

See more on the Victory and other CPA projects on Holyoke’s Community Preservation Committee website here:




MIFA Creative Cast Visit Other Historic Theaters

In September and October MIFA’s Creative Cast of architects, OUR construction manager, theater consultants, and experts paid visits to three extraordinary working theaters like the Victory to see how they’ve addressed preservation and construction issues to successfully house a variety of acts, shows, and ambitious programming.

“The managements and staff of Broadway’s Schoenfeld (formerly Plymouth), Boston’s Emerson Colonial (under new 40 year lease to London’s Ambassador Theatre Group) and Providence’s PPAC we’re incredibly warm and welcoming and the visits absolutely eye-opening for our Victory plans.” – MIFA Victory Executive Artistic Director Don Sanders

Historic Tax Credits News Briefs – October 2018

Friday, October 5, 2018

The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) announced Aug. 15 that Gov. Charlie Baker signed the 2018 Economic Development Bond bill into law, which will provide the organization with $11 million for the renovation of the Victory Theatre in Holyoke. MIFA plans to restore and operate the 1,600-seat historic theater, built-in 1920, which closed in 1979. The financing package includes state and federal historic tax credits (HTCs) and new markets tax credits. The state also previously awarded MIFA a $2 million bond-financing package. Renovations costs are expected to total $43 million, with a reopening target date of Dec. 20, 2020.  –


El Sol Latino | October 2018 |Published on Oct 2, 2018


Editorial: Victory Theatre restoration worth it, By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, Wednesday, September 26, 2018, Daily Hampshire Gazette

The Victory Theater in Holyoke seats 1600. The seats will be refurbished as part of the renovation project which just received 13 million in bonds from the state on Monday, September 17, 2018.


Holyoke’s Victory Theatre renovation project gets $13M infusion of state funds By Luis Fieldman, Monday, September 17, 2018, Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Daily Hampshire Gazette—STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS


WWLP 22 News Coverage of the Victory Theatre Press Conference

September 2018


Victory Theatre Press Conference September 17, 2018


August 15, 2018

Governor Baker has signed into law the 2018 Economic Development Bond bill providing $11 million to advance the renovation of the Victory Theatre in Holyoke. Combined with an earlier 2018 facilities bond bill, the State has now authorized $13 million in bond funds in support of the Victory Theatre project…READ MORE:


July 11, 2018

A House earmark of $2 million in the $666 million economic development bill would go toward renovating the Victory Theater in Holyoke.

Massachusetts House tacks $125 million in earmarks onto economic development bond bill – By Shira Schoenberg, The Republican/, July 11, 2018.


June 28, 2018

BOSTON/HOLYOKE – The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts (MIFA) Victory Theatre has been awarded $2 million in state support through the Capital Assets Bond Bill signed recently by Gov. Baker. Holyoke’s state senator Don Humason (R-Westfield), Senate Assistant Minority Leader, sponsored the amendment that earmarked the $2 million for the MIFA Victory Theatre project. The $2 million will be used toward renovating and reopening the historic Holyoke theater as a game-changer for the performing arts and tourism in the Pioneer Valley and a force of consequence for economic development in Holyoke and the surrounding region…READ MORE:


Victory Tour w/ legislators

Senator Don Humason hosted an informational meeting at MIFA Victory Theatre in #Holyoke on Monday, October 30, 2017.

MIFA’s Executive Director Don Sanders led tour of the Victory Theatre with Senator Eric Lesser, State Rep Aaron Vega, State Rep Solomon Goldstein-Rose, Delcie Bean of Paragus Strategic I.T., MIFA’s  Managing Director Katherine McKean, MIFA’s Tax Credit Financing Consultant Barbara Sokoloff, and MIFA’s development volunteers Geoffrey and Linda O’Connell. See more photos on our Facebook page:


October 25, 2017 - Filming at the Victory Theatre! The movie "Leo And The Shark," film on location in the theatre.


Photo by Dave Roback. See more photos here:


Is the Victory Theatre haunted? Check out some interesting discoveries the Pioneer Valley Paranormal group found while investigating the historic Victory Theatre in #Holyoke!


Behind the Scenes: Victory Theater in Holyoke, abandoned for almost 40 years – By Heather Adams,, April 26, 2017



This review process is key to the restoration and reopening of the theater and qualifies the Victory Theatre Project for Federal Historic Tax Credits!

Find out more about the NPS Historic Preservation here:


We are pleased to announce that the MIFA Victory Theatre Project was awarded an additional $100,000.00 in Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit funds, putting us at a total of $4.4 Million!

We would like to thank Chairman Secretary William Galvin and the Massachusetts Historical Commission for their continued support.

MIFA will be applying for the next round on April 30, 2017.

Find out more about the MCRTC program here:


Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Funds:

We are pleased to announce that the MIFA Victory Theatre Project was awarded an additional $100,000.00 in Massachusetts Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (MHRTC) funds, putting us at a total of  $4.3M!

We would like to thank Chairman Secretary William Galvin and the Massachusetts Historical Commission for their continued support.


The Victory Theatre is a featured chapter in the new Abandoned America book “Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream” by Matthew Christopher.

Now available to purchase on AmazonBarnes & NobleBooksamillion,  Indiebound


See Abandoned America’s Victory Photo Gallery


Official Music Video by Lil Silva “Caught Up” feat. Cosima, starring The Victory Theatre & places around Holyoke as its backdrop!

Special Thanks to Rory Casey and the City of Holyoke, Glenn Shealey, MIFA Victory Theatre, Vitek Kruta, Lori Divine and Gateway City Arts, Handheld Films.


Photographer David Manch of Silver Crescent Photography held a workshop at the Victory Theatre!

See more photos on MIFA’s Facebook page


Preview Massachusetts Magazine interview with Don Sanders, February 19, 2016, by James Heflin.