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TDF completing the pilot year of CREATE NEW YORK, a multi-year program to inspire participants in community groups to seek the transformative power of theatre and dance

Date: Jul 14, 2016


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Theatre Development Fund (TDF), the not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts is completing the pilot year of its new program, CREATE NEW YORK (CNY). CREATE NEW YORK is a multi-year partnership between TDF and community centers throughout New York City which will build audiences for theatre and dance and use the art forms as a way to promote change in individuals, their neighborhoods and ultimately, the city. Click HERE for a brief video about the program.

CREATE NEW YORK seeks to partner with community centers in all five boroughs to gather adults, who have traditionally attended little to no live theatre or dance performances. Groups of approximately 15 individuals connected with the community centers will complete a 3-year cycle with increasing autonomy every year. Group participants will democratically select 4 performing arts events annually from the multitude of offerings throughout NYC whose themes, aesthetics, or artists directly relate back to their shared interests and vision for their community. Over post-meal discussions the groups discuss their experience and its relevance in a social atmosphere at a variety of neighborhood or community spaces.

As a culminating event for each of the 3 years, the group creates a community-based project inspired by their theatrical experiences that will directly benefit their community, at large (such as community forums, creating documentaries on local issues, etc.). The project is an investment by the group in their neighborhood and will aspire to positively impact the community and engage diverse residents in an event.

For this pilot year, TDF partnered with The Dream Center, a self-sustaining multigenerational extension of First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem. The 15 participants in this first group curated a series of shows to see which included: Hip Hop Nutcracker; Kinky Boots; White Rabbit, Red Rabbit; and Skeleton Crew at the Atlantic Theater Company. They will hold discussions on what their final project will be on July 24 (2pm – 6pm) and 25 (6pm – 9pm) at The Dream Center and when it is decided upon, it will be scheduled for a date this fall.

“What is unique about CREATE NEW YORK is that we hope to not only develop new theatre attendees, but to actually have the program participants become cultural ambassadors and
cultural architects in their communities,” said Daniel Renner, TDF’s Education Director.  “By developing these leaders and influencers on the community level, we believe this is a first step in creating sustainable new audiences for dance and theatre.”

“We are very excited by this pilot year of CREATE NEW YORK,” said Victoria Bailey, TDF’s Executive Director. “The Dream Center has been the perfect partner to launch the program with, exploring ways to make theatre and dance more accessible to New Yorkers throughout the city.  We hope that through their experience attending performances as a group and engaging in conversations around the performances, we will increase sustained participation in theatre and dance.”

“The Dream Center is elated to birth this groundbreaking new program in the Harlem Community,” stated Desiree Allen, Executive Visionary of The Dream Center. Cathleen Meredith, The Dream Center’s Creative Innovation Designer and TDF’s first artist liaison says: “a program of this magnitude and impact is a powerful contagion. It will redefine how theatre affects community, how audience influences culture, and how strategic programming can shift paradigms.”

Plans are currently underway to find participants for a second group at The Dream Center as well as starting a new partnership with another community based organization in The Bronx.

Opened in 2012, The Dream Center’s mission is “to unlock and cultivate the dreams of the Harlem Community through transformative programs centered on Creative Arts, Leadership Development and Economic Empowerment.” In addition to its partnership with TDF, The Dream Center has also partnered with a multitude of community groups including Emblem Health, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Fathers First, Wadleigh High School, Frederick Douglass Academy, and Harlem Week. The modern state-of-the-art space caters primarily to a young millennial audience, but offers free programming six days a week to every age group: children, teens, adults, and seniors. Yoga, meditation, summer teen programming, marketing, legal clinics, and business start-up classes are just a few of the 40 free classes offered at The Dream Center.  

TDF is a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, was created in the conviction that the live theatrical arts afford a unique expression of the human condition that must be sustained and nurtured. It is dedicated to developing diverse audiences for live theatre and dance, and strengthening the performing arts community in New York City. Since 1968, TDF’s programs have provided over 90 million people with access to performances at affordable prices and have returned over $2.5 billion to thousands of productions.

Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF’s membership, outreach, access (including its Autism Theatre Initiative) and education programs — as well as its Costume Collection — have introduced thousands of people to the theatre and helped make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone, including students and people with disabilities.
TDF honors include a 2011 Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture, a 2012 Tony Honor for Excellence for its Open Doors Arts Education Program, a 2012 New York Innovative Theatre Award for its support of the off-Off Broadway community, a 2013 Lucille Lortel honor for “Outstanding Body of Work” in support of the Off Broadway community and a 2016 “Friend of Off Broadway” honor from The Off Broadway Alliance.  For more information about everything TDF does, please visit