WATERTOWN — Last year was the year that the music died for the Disabled Persons Action Organization.
For the first time in more than 40 years, DPAO was unable to hold its annual concert series as the COVID-19 pandemic and state-related restrictions made such gatherings impossible.
But it was more than about fans missing the music of some of the top entertainers in the country. DPAO itself took a hit. Funding for programs that the concerts provided for the nonprofit evaporated.
Proceeds from the DPAO Annual Summer Concert Series are received by the DPAO Foundation, which then provides funding for various DPAO programs and services.
Tim Dermady, DPAO foundation director, said the organization serves over 500 individuals with developmental disabilities in Jefferson and Lewis counties.
“These funds are important to the agency,” he said.
But Mr. Dermady said that not having concerts in 2020 did not impact the overall operating of DPAO programs. But dealing with the COVID has affected some of its operations.
“The pandemic has affected the ability to provide extra services or assistance to our individuals and families that we serve with developmental disabilities,” Mr. Dermady said in an email to the Times.
DPAO applied for and was accepted for the first federal Paycheck Protection Program. The agency does not meet the qualifications for the second PPP.
DPAO has approximately 276 employees at its various sites:
Its administration building at 617 Davidson St.
The William J. McClusky Center, 633 Davidson St., where DPAO operates day habilitation services and short term respite programs. Joesph L. Rich, president of the DPAO Foundation board of directors, said revenue last year for day habilitation services was down 50%.
A free-standing respite home and overnight respite program at 652 Thompson St.
And in Lowville, a free-standing respite home at 5205 Ebbly Road.
The fact that COVID-19 vaccines are now rolling out is music to the ears of DPAO officials.
“DPAO is preparing to hold four concerts this summer, if New York state COVID-19 guidelines allow us to,” Mr. Dermady said.
One of those potential concerts is the Pink Floyd tribute band The Machine, which could be held at Madison Barracks in Sackets Harbor.
Earlier this month, DPAO and the city of Watertown agreed to a new three-year contract that will allow DPAO to pursue holding concerts at three sites: Watertown Fairgrounds, Watertown Fairgrounds Arena and Thompson Park.
Mr. Dermady said that due to negotiations, potential dates and locations for concerts this summer cannot be announced.
“We have dates in mind but I can’t release them yet as we do not have the OK from the entertainers’ management company,” he said.
But he said they would likely be held June, July and August, “with a possible September outdoor show.”
Like previous years, the DPAO concerts will target a range of musical styles. But not all are musical acts. The comedian Larry the Cable Guy is one of the entertainers DPAO is considering.
Among other acts being considered: Earth, Wind & Fire, James Taylor, ZZ Top, Dustin Lynch, Ron Zombie, Train, STYX, The Goo Goo Dolls, Breaking Benjamin, Bad Company, Papa Roach, Dierks Bentley, Def Leppard, Five Finger Death Punch and Halestorm.
DPAO has plans for its annual Rock ’n’ Roll Oldies Show in September along with a show in the fall — if COVID guidelines allow. The agency is considering Herman’s Hermits featuring original lead singer Peter Noone for the Oldies show at Bonnie Castle Resort in Alexandria Bay and the ABBA tribute band Adbacadabra for DPAO’s fall show in October at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown.