Top 10 Events That Affected OOB in 2010
Each new year, our staff reviews stories from the previous season and assembles our list of the most important things that happened. Here is our list of the top 10 events that affected OOB in 2010.
(in chronological order)
- The Recession
Off-Off-Broadway is used to working with modest budgets. What we lack in funds we make up for with ingenuity. Because we tend to work outside the commerical theatre economic engine, we weather economic changes better than our counterparts. However the recession has been long and difficult and has affected even our resilient community and found us all tightening our belts and seeking out communal support and resources.
Heather Cohn of Flux Theatre Ensemble and Daniel Talbott of Rising Phoenix Repertory Theatre, share their thoughts on the recession and their work OOB.
Read the full article.
- OOB Demographics Study Released
In January, 2010 the New York Innovative Theatre Foundation released its study on the Demographics of Off-Off-Broadway Practitioners. The report looks at the artists who create OOB and provides statistics and important data about the sector. It is the third study in a series that examines the OOB community.
Read more about the study.
- World Theatre Day Celebrated in New York City
Since 1961 the International Theatre Institute (ITI) has celebrated World Theatre Day on March 27th. Each year various national and international theatre events are organized to mark this occasion and an internationally renowned theatre artist is invited to share a message about theatre.
In 2010, the New York City World Theatre Day coalition was formed to help organize events and celebrate World Theatre Day right here in NYC. Performances, parties, flashmobs and the reading of the international message were all a part of the festivities.
The 2011 NYC World Theatre Day activities promise to be even more exciting and varied. “World Theatre Day is extraordinary opportunity for theatre artists across New York City and the world to celebrate our incredible art form,” said NYC World Theatre Day organizer Amanda Feldman. “I am extremely proud of the impact of the NYC World Theatre Day Coalition was able to achieve in our first year and we look forward to organizing even more fun events and spreading the word even farther in 2011.”
For more information, to get involved or to volunteer, visit www.nycwtd.com or email email@example.com.
- 3LD vs. the MTA
In May, 2010, 3-Legged Dog, one of the most distinguished theatrical venues in the city, was embroiled in a complicated rent dispute with their landlord the MTA and was facing eviction. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, Chair of Community Board 1 Julie Menin as well as many members of the OOB community all made impassioned appeals to the MTA, who finally agreed to discuss the situation. After much negotiation, the two sides reached an agreement and 3LD is now current on their rent.
The amenable arrangement assures that independent theatre artists will continue to have the unprecedented state-of-the-art facility in which to create their work. And 3LD is making the most of this opportunity. According to artistic director, Kevin Cunningham, “3LD actually significantly increased its programming and partnering activity during last year.” These new partnerships have, in turn, significantly helped to increase ticket sales, “we lost more than half our budget but increased our audience from around 70,000 to 435,000. The company’s earned revenue is up nearly 400% and it appears that philanthropic support is returning.” Cunningham is not currently at liberty to discuss future plans for 3LD, but promises exciting and groundbreaking programs are in the works.
Read more about 3LD and the MTA.
- Tax Abatement Proposal gets support from all 12 Manhattan CBs
In February 2009 at the Public Forum on The State of Small To Mid-Sized Theaters, Borough President Scott Stringer challenged the attendees to come up with innovative solutions for which their elected officials could advocate. The Manhattan Community Boards took that mandate very seriously. They spent months brainstorming, meeting and devising proposals to address some of the most deep-rooted problems facing the sector. One of these proposals is a tax abatement that would benefit small non-profit performing arts venues. This resolution was widely circulated and in May of 2010 it garnered unanimous support of all 12 Manhattan Community Boards, which was an unprecedented collaborative effort.
“The Community Boards accomplished so much in the last year advocating for the support of this overlooked sector,” says David Pincus, Chair of the Theatre Task Force for Community Board 4.
The proposal was shared with various elected officials who offered advice and support but most significantly asked some important questions that need to be answered before the next step can be taken.
The work continues in 2011 to collect the requested information and move the proposal forward. In addition, work on the next proposal addressing Con-Edison fees for theatres has already begun.
Read more about the proposal and its progress.
- Ohio Shuttered
On August 31, 2010 the Ohio Theatre on Wooster Street ended its 29 year run and closed its doors forever. In 2008 the owners of the building, who had always been supporters of the theatre, found themselves no longer able to keep up with the financial demands of the maintenance and preservation of the building and decided to sell. While, Soho Think Tank artistic director and space manager Robert Lyons, was able to negotiate several extensions, he could not stay the eviction forever. One of the most prolific and beloved Off-Off-Broadway venues, the Ohio was home to some of the most influential OOB artists of our time and will be sadly missed.
Soho Think Tank perseveres on however and has since found a home at 3-Legged Dog where, according to their website, they “couldn't be happier.”
Read more about the closure of the Ohio.
- 2nd Annual Indie Theatre Midsummer Classic
Despite a heat index of over 100 degrees, stifling humidity and warnings from the weather service to avoid overheating, nearly sixty intrepid Off-Off-Broadway artists arrived at the Elizabeth Barlow Rogers Ballfield on Central Park’s Great Lawn for the 2nd Annual Indie Theatre Mid-Summer Classic hosted by The Community Dish, The Innovative Theatre Foundation, United Stages and the League of Independent Theatre.
Read more about this exhilarating day in the park.
- Artists fleeing NYC
OOB artists are no strangers to hard times. While it is not easy being the proverbial “starving artist,” we understand the struggles of pursuing an artistic dream while trying to make ends meet. Living and working in one of the most culturally rich and artistically fertile cities in the world is worth the effort. However over the last few years it seems that struggle is becoming more-and-more arduous. Housing costs have been on the rise, day jobs are harder to come by, costs of living have increased and the city is offering fewer incentives for artists. Meanwhile other cities are actively luring artists with competitive arts-friendly initiatives. Will city officials finally see that the creative talent pool is slowly being depleted? In November a Crain’s New York Business article reported on this trend and highlighted the issues facing artists living in the city.
- Documenting OOB
Over the last few years, there have been a number of people and organizations working to document the rich and diverse Off-Off-Broadway community.
The Indie Theatre Companion
In 2010, the New York Theatre Experience launched the Indie Theatre Companion. According to the website, the Companion “is a dynamic resource written by theater artists about the world of indie theater.” It includes bios, profiles and articles of companies and artists written by their fellow artists and is a true resource for our community.
Frank Kuzler and his company Decades Out has undertaken the Awareness Project, which endeavors to raise the profile of the Off-Off-Broadway community. In an effort to document the nearly 60 years of OOB, Kuzler has conducted numerous interviews with noteworthy and respected OOB artists for his film Burning to Communicate. In addition, through man-on-the-street interviews he hopes to discover candid opinions of OOB and spread the word about the fiercely committed and creative community.
Check out this great article about the Awareness Project.
For the past 66 seasons, the Theatre World publication has been dedicated to documenting Broadway, Off-Broadway and professional regional theatre. In 2009 they included Off-Off-Broadway, for the first time. This is the oldest pictorial and the most comprehensive statistical record of the American theatre and is placed in research and reference libraries at The Library of Congress. “With more Off-Off-Broadway shows produced each year than Broadway and Off-Broadway combined (and arguably, as many or more than LORT regional theatres), yet with budget limitations resulting in the sometimes transient nature of Off-Off-Broadway productions, combined with an ever-changing amount of venues, chronicling the Off-Off-Broadway theatre as Theatre World does is perhaps its most important mission,” said Theatre World Editor and Chief, Ben Hodges.
For the past 40 years, playwright Robert Patrick has been collecting and archiving photos from early OOB productions, especially from the Caffé Cino. If you have not visited his website, you are missing out. It is a revelation and a joy to view such an amazing pictorial history.
- OOB Provides Help Around the World
There were several world events in 2010 that engaged the OOB community.
On January 12, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. The quake devastated the country leaving an estimated 2,000,000 dead, just as many homeless and 3,000,000 in need of emergency medical attention. Many OOB artists and companies put together fundraisers donating thousands of dollars to Doctors Without Borders and The Red Cross. Headshots for Haiti was also launched where photographers donated their fees to these good causes.
On August 5, 2010 the San Jose Gold and Copper Mine in Chile suffered a major collapse. 33 minors were trapped nearly 2,300 feet underground for 69 days. A harrowing story. OOBers again organized fundraisers and even sent care packages to the trapped miners.