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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Independent Theater Fund

Here's a press release for an exciting new idea. Give it a read. I think it articulates some bold thinking and some real challenges that we're facing in NYC.

Might I add that I still think the Showcase Code causes some of these problems?




For over sixty years, Off-Off Broadway (now known as Independent Theater) has provided a haven for New York City theater artists and served as a cauldron and cradle for new and innovative American theater.  This sector has grown beyond a “starting place” for many artists and now provides the artistic home for over 10,000 individuals and 300 companies. But this civic treasure is threatened.  The economic realities of New York City have forced many artists and companies to leave New York.  Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines and many other cities are poised to replace New York as the center of new American theater. We refuse to lose this historic, cultural and civic treasure. We are beginning an annual, reliable funding pool for the independent theater territory. And it only costs a nickel.

Starting August 1, 2012, nearly 50 theater companies will contribute five cents from every ticket sold this year as seed money for the Independent Theater Fund.  This list includes Present Company (producers of the New York International Fringe Festival), PS 122, HERE Art Center, Horse Trade Theater Group, Clancy Productions, wreckio ensemble, Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company, the Amoralists, Surf Reality, New Georges, Inverse Theatre, Tectonic Theater Project, Peculiar Works, Flux Ensemble, Elephant Run District, Rabbit Hole Ensemble, Jewish Plays Project, Parallel Exit, Gorilla Rep, Sponsored by Nobody, Stolen Chair Theatre Company, Mind the Gap Theater, Art House Productions, ETdC Projects Lab, Angry Bubble Productions, ViolaCello Stageworks, La Lupa Italian Cultural Arts Festival, Small Pond Entertainment, Organs of State, Decades Out, WET Productions, Gemini/Collisionworks, Untitled Theater Company #61, Theatre Askew, John Montgomery Theatre Company, the Living Theater, New York Theatre Experience, Inc., Sinking Ship Productions, and Mabou Mines, among others. This list is growing every day.

We call on all independent theater companies, artists and venues to join us in this effort.  As always, we recognize that we are strongest and most effective when we work together and while our individual bank accounts may be small, our collective resources are substantial.

Judith  Malina of the Living Theater says: “The League of Independent Theater represents a coming together of actual artistic and theatrical forces that may yet undo the difficulty of our times in maintaining the highest artistic standards in a period of economic crisis. Who can save us from the downhill trend of our economy except the vigor of our arts?  Theatre, music and education are our only hopes to lift our times beyond their despair and create a viable, prosperous culture.”

Elena Holy, Producing Artistic Director of FringeNYC says: "The Present Company is always proud to be a part of anything that involves indie theatre artists supporting each other. The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) was forged on our collective indie traditions of self-sufficiency, creativity, and working together. This new fund builds on that idea and puts it into action across our entire community - its potential impact is extraordinarily exciting."

This is the first phase of this funding initiative.

We call on the League of American Theaters and Producers to join the cause and help us to support, sustain and strengthen the independent theater community in New York City. The Broadway League has a long history of supporting charitable efforts that benefit the theatrical community and with this initiative they will take the lead in addressing the exodus of young theater professionals and companies from New York City as well as recognizing the national cultural treasure that is the Off-Off Broadway territory. With a five cent surcharge on each ticket sold to a Broadway show, (which is .0057 of the average ticket price or about five hundredths of a percent) we can create an immediate, annual fund for small theater in New York.

In 2010, Broadway attendance was 12,106,105.  If the Independent Theater Fund was in effect in 2010, the independent theater community would have just over $605,000.00 to maintain and upgrade venues, provide scholarships for promising writers, directors, designers and performers and mount a high-visibility city-wide marketing campaign for all of the independent theater productions in the city.
The initial allocation of funds has yet to be determined, but areas under discussion include:
- Real Estate Fund (Money for venue renovation and repair, equipment upgrade, etc.  Also, a Seed Money Fund will be created for real estate purchase.)
- Project Grants (Money to create shows.)
- Individual Grants (Money for independent theater artists and practitioners.)

We call on all theaters and companies in New York to join the Fund.

The League of Independent Theater is the advocacy organization for Off-Off Broadway.  We are dedicated to promoting and strengthening the artistic and economic interests of our members, organizing and protecting our members to ensure that independent theater is economically viable for all of its practitioners and to advocate on behalf of the decades-old tradition of Off-Off Broadway. For more information, visit www.litny.org.


Tara said...

Pretty cool!

aplayaday said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aplayaday said...

Ignoring the bulk of the article (seems to me like a great idea), I'm a bit rankled by this sentiment:
"The economic realities of New York City have forced many artists and companies to leave New York. Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines and many other cities are poised to replace New York as the center of new American theater."

No one else found this a bit off-putting? That creativity is a zero-sum game? I feel that statement is a reflection of the cult of New York, which believes that if it doesn't happen on a New York stage, it's not relevant theatre. It's something I can forgive in my family (in my head I can still hear every parent, grandparent, aunt and uncle asking if I was planning on moving to New York after I graduated) but the way it's stated in that release, it feels like a dismissal of flyover country. "God forbid Des Moines gets any of our good stuff!"

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