TDF Advisory

A letter from our executive director


Letter dated: 3/20/20
Dear friends,

Like everyone, I am feeling a sense of dislocation and isolation as a result of the whirlwind events of the last two weeks. So, I wanted to reach out to check in with all of you, TDF’s members, friends and supporters. I hope you are taking care of yourselves in this time of unprecedented anxiety and uncertainty.

As you know, all performance venues in New York are closed. As of now, Broadway shows will be dark through April 12, possibly longer. Thousands of artists are out of work, and theatre and dance companies and arts nonprofits are grappling with how to stay afloat financially until the performance ban is lifted. This is uncharted territory, not only for TDF and the theatre industry, but for all of us.

The shuttering of venues means we have lost one of the things we love best about New York, live performance, which we rely on to enlighten us, connect us and comfort us. The theatre is our safe, happy place, and it's not available right now. What saddens me even more is that TDF’s school, community and access programs are suspended while shows are dark. Therefore, thousands of NYC students, individuals with physical and developmental disabilities, hundreds of veterans and many others are unable to benefit from our services during this time.

I want to share the necessary steps we are taking to make sure TDF is there for you once this crisis is over. We’ve moved to remote operations, and TDF’s administrative offices are closed. Our staff is working from home during our usual hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and we can be reached easily via email. If you’ve purchased TDF member tickets for any canceled performances, you will be refunded to the original form of payment. Please be patient as staff must do this manually.

In addition, TDF’s Board of Directors had to cancel TDF’s 2020 Gala, scheduled for March 23. As our largest fundraising event of the year, it would have provided significant funds to support what we do.

As we look to the future, TDF, like all of our arts colleagues, is struggling with enormous uncertainty. When will the theatres reopen? And when they do, how many shows will resume? What will the impact on Broadway be?

TDF faces very hard choices. We are an unusual not-for-profit organization. Two of our central programs, the TKTS booths and TDF membership, fulfill a large part of our mission (providing affordable access to the theatre for nearly two million people annually) while also generating revenue. Unlike many other nonprofits, only 15% of TDF’s annual income comes from charitable contributions. The bulk of our expenses, including our education and access programs, are supported predominantly by the per-ticket service charge from the TKTS booths, and handling fees from our membership program. The closure of performance venues has shut down our biggest streams of revenue.

I am sad to say that we had to lay off temporary and part-time staff. We have also been forced to make a significant reduction in pay for our full-time employees. If the theatres remain closed beyond April 12, we may need to consider more drastic measures. I share this with you, our TDF community, to illustrate the gravity of our situation. We are doing what we must to survive this difficult period so we can be there for you when the theatres reopen.

While we wait for that to happen, we are continuing to find ways to connect you to the joy of theatre and dance. On TDF Stages, we are sharing roundups of live-streamed and prerecorded performances to watch from the comfort of your home. We are also working with fellow arts organizations to find ways to support their online performance efforts.

At some point, the theatres WILL reopen. To rebound from this devastating crisis, we will need the performing arts to lift us, revive us and allow us to once again connect with our fellow theatre lovers. All the theatres—from the largest Broadway house to the smallest Off-Off black box—will be clamoring for audiences. When that time comes, TDF will be there to provide access to the performing arts for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world. We’ve been around for 52 years and we intend to carry on.

If you have the means, please consider supporting TDF as we weather this unprecedented storm. And thank you for your dedication as a theatregoer. You are the reason why we are here. Today, and tomorrow.

Be well.

Tory Bailey
Executive Director, TDF