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National Endowment for the Arts announces grant to Theatre Development Fund (TDF)

Date: Jun 28, 2011


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Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, recently announced that Theatre Development Fund has been recommended for a grant of $30,000 to help support TDF’s National Open Captioning Initiative, which will partner with 11 regional theatres during the 2011/12 theatre season. TDF was one of 1,145 not-for-profit national, regional, state, and local organizations recommended for a grant as part of the federal agency’s second round of fiscal year 2011 grants. In total, the Arts Endowment will distribute more than $88 million to support projects nationwide.

TDF’s National Open Captioning Initiative was created in response to an increasing number of requests from cultural organizations outside of New York who want to learn how to open caption their own shows. A service of TDF’s Accessibility Programs (TAP), the Initiative targets areas where open captioning is not yet in use, and provides participating organizations with a replicable model that not only helps them to provide the service on their own but assists them in raising awareness about the value of open captioning.  

Open Captioning is more inclusive of all audience members with mild to severe hearing loss than traditional sign language interpretation. Through Open Captioning, an electronic text display, placed on the side of the stage, shows what the actors are saying or singing and describes sound effects on stage, simultaneously with the performance.

An independent agency of the federal government, the National Endowment for the Arts advances artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “NEA research shows that three out of four Americans participate in the arts. The diverse, innovative, and exceptional projects funded in this round will ensure that Americans around the country continue to have the opportunity to experience and participate in the arts.”

“After TDF first introduced Open Captioning on Broadway in 1997, we realized that there was a great need for the service to help people with mild to severe hearing loss fully enjoy live performance, not only in New York, but across the country,” said Victoria Bailey, TDF’s Executive Director. “The support the NEA has shown will help us continue to introduce Open Captioning at theatre companies across the United States.”

“This funding will help us increase the number of theatres to which we can introduce Open Captioning,” said Lisa Carling, TDF’s Director of Accessibility Programs. “We are thrilled to introduce Open Captioning at seven theatre companies this coming theatre season, as well as returning to four theatres at which we launched the program last season."

Over the last seven theatre seasons TDF has open captioned 188 performances at 20 regional theatres.

For the upcoming 2011/12 theatre season, TDF is partnering with 11 regional theatres, helping them to open caption a total of 68 performances. First-time partnerships will be with:

Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, GA
Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Charlotte, NC
Chrysler Hall, Norfolk, VA
Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA
Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Portland, OR
Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL
Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Nashville, TN

TDF will return to the following theatres for the second year of their partnership with:

Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Montgomery, AL
Edwin J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, Akron, OH
Ordway Center, St. Paul, MN
Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

About TDF: Theatre Development Fund has played a unique role in strengthening live theatre and dance in New York City for the past 43 years. This not-for-profit service organization’s programs have filled over 80 million seats at discount prices (with theatre lovers who would normally not be able to attend live performance) and returned over two billion dollars in revenue to thousands of theatre, dance and music productions. Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF’s membership, voucher, access and education programs as well as its Costume Collection, help to make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone. TDF’s book, Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play, has spurred a national conversation about the way playwrights and theatre companies interact. TDF recently launched the Official TKTS app which has been embraced by theatre fans the world over.

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.  To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

Additional funding for TDF’s National Open Captioning Initiative is provided by MetLife Foundation and Stavros Niarchos Foundation