You can read the report here.
Some of the highlights:
- Over 25% of OOB venues in both the West Village and Midtown area have either been demolished or repurposed into non-performance spaces in the last 5 years
- 43% of all OOB venues are located in the West Side Midtown area of Manhattan
- There has been a sharp decline in the number of OOB productions presenting work in the Theatre District
- The East Village, which only accounts for 14% of the overall OOB venues, is currently presenting 30% of the OOB productions.
Quotes from the press release:
"The rate of the erosion of our stages is alarming. Over the last 5 years, we have lost 26% of the Off-Off-Broadway stages in the Midtown area. We have watched a steady decline in the number of productions that are taking place in the "theatre district." Even more disturbing is the fact that of the 30 Off-Off-Broadway houses in the Greenwich Village area, over 25% have already been lost and with the displacement of the theatres from the Archive Building, that percentage increases to 40%" said Shay Gines, Executive Director, New York Innovative Theatre Foundation.
"The research and information contained in this report not only substantiate the numbers needed to help effectively advocate for public policy change as it relates to small non-profit theatre in New York City, but it also creates a clear barometer of the passion and fiery commitment it takes to simply exist in the Off-Off-Broadway world." - David M. Pincus, Chairman, Theater Task Force, Community Board 4
A few things stick out to me.
The first is the localization of Off-Off Broadway around Midtown West. I think a shorthand that I use, and I've heard used, to describe Off-Off is "downtown" theater. Suffice to say, that's got to be revised.
The second is a list of now-defunct Off-Off Broadway spaces.
29th Street Theatre
78th Street Theatre Lab, 2nd floor (scheduled to close in 2009)
78th Street Theatre Lab, 3rd floor
Bowerie Lane Theatre
Chelsea Repertory Company
Creative Place Theatre
Douglas Fairbanks Theatre
Emerging Artists Theatre
Flatiron Theatre (where Blue Coyote Theater Group produced my play The Great Escape, on a personal note)
Greenwich Street Theatre
Grove Street Playhouse
Hinton Battle Dance Laboratory
John Houseman - Theatre 1 - OB space
John Houseman - Theatre 2
John Houseman - Theatre 3
Michael Weller Theatre
Nat Horne Theatre
New Perspectives Theatre
Perry Street Theatre
Sanford Meisner Theatre
Show World Theatre
The Tank on 42nd Street
Village Gate Theatre
Vital Children's Theatre
Where Eagles Dare
And here are, according to the report, theatres currently in danger of eviction
Interborough Repertory Theater
The Wings Theatre
Theatre for a New Audience - OB space
13th Street Repertory Theatre
Quite a list. That's 36 closed Off Off Broadway venues.
It's also noteworthy to see that 84% of producing companies that responded to the survey note that they "Rent Various Locations" for their performances. 5% of producers responding claimed a permanent home. It shows how rental prices directly affect the community at large, and how the economics of rent are simply a central factor of what is produced Off-Off Broadway.
What do you see in this report? What alarms you? And, more than that, how can we use this information to make a positive change in Off-Off Broadway, and the New York Theater scene as a whole? If you're not from NYC, what here speaks to you from the perspective of your own locale? Are you seeing theater's close?
Let's also remember this: this report was done over the last 5 years. The economy is in dire straits right now. If this has been what's been happening for half a decade, what can we expect under far worse financial conditions?