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TDF’S “New Audiences for New York ” receives $200,000 grant for second year funding from the New York City Theater Subdistrict Council

Date: Sep 16, 2010


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Theatre Development Fund (TDF), the not-for-profit performing arts service organization, has been named as one of 15 organizations to receive grants from the New York City Theater Subdistrict Council (TSC).  TDF will receive $200,000 to continue its “New Audiences for New York” program, which was launched last year with a $150,000 grant from the TSC. The mission of “New Audiences for New York” is to build new audiences for Broadway among diverse and underrepresented New Yorkers across the city.

During the first year of the program, 32 groups, each with an average of 50 participants, from such diverse organizations as youth, senior and church groups, attended several Broadway performances and participated in pre- and post-performance facilitated discussions.

“We’re thrilled to receive this grant from the TSC,” said Victoria Bailey, Theatre Development Fund’s executive director.  “With this grant, we will be able to expand and strengthen the program.  In addition to bringing over 20 new groups into the program, we will be able to continue to work with the groups from the first year, helping them become independent theatregoers and, in turn, having them help to usher in the new groups.”

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reported on a first year ‘wrap up meeting’ with leaders whose groups participated in “New Audiences for New York.”  The following three quotes are excerpted from that article:

From Robert Henderson, who led a group from Green Chimneys Children Services, which provides foster care to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender youth ages 16 to 20: "To get all them interested in something is impossible. They were arguing all the way there. They had in their minds that Broadway is for when you get older."  By the end of Fela!, though, the group was cheering, clamoring to stay and rushed to get autographs: "They wanted to go to an Internet café to look up more on Fela," Mr. Henderson said. "They wanted to know: 'Was that real or made up?'"

Michelle Darden of St. Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn related one specific transformation: "We had a sixth grader who didn't want to go. He said 'Please let me stay home!' But by intermission, he lit up and said, 'Thank you, Grandma!'"

Cathy Cahn, who led a group from the Queens-based group Services Now for Adult Persons (SNAP) to Hair, discussed how seniors valued the chance to see a show and talk about an era they remembered well: "They don't travel into the city, and Broadway is prohibitively expensive. It gave us a different insight. It gave us so much to talk about afterward."

The TSC is a not-for-profit corporation established pursuant to a 1998 zoning rule that allows owners of landmarked Broadway theaters to transfer air rights within the Theater Subdistrict provided the theater is preserved, there is a commitment to use the space for legitimate theater use, and a portion of the proceeds are deposited into a Theater Subdistrict Fund designed to support the theater community. The TSC administers the Theater Subdistrict Fund, to allocate grants with the goal of developing new audiences, promoting the production of new theater work, and showcasing Broadway’s singular role in the history of American theater. As envisioned by the zoning text, a number of development plans resulted in significant contributions to the fund in recent years, which were followed by the appointment of a TSC Directors Council and creation of the grant program.

THEATRE DEVELOPMENT FUND (TDF) has played a unique role in strengthening live theatre and dance in New York City for the past 42 years. This not-for-profit service organization’s programs have provided 78 million people access to the theatre at discount prices (with theatre lovers who would normally not be able to attend live performance) and returned nearly 2 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. This year, TDF published its first book, Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play. To learn more about TDF, go to: