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The ongoing COVID-19 situation is impacting everyone around the world, but the theatre industry has been hit particularly hard. In New York City, all theatres on Broadway and beyond have been ordered to close until at least April 12, leaving countless performers, designers, writers, directors and other artists and staff out of work. While Broadway will eventually bounce back, the situation is dire for nonprofit theatres and independent artists, especially those who live paycheck to paycheck.
The theatre is a community, and audiences are an important part of it. If you're a theatre lover who's in a position to support those who usually make the shows go on Off and Off-Off Broadway, here are five easy ways to help.
1. Have tickets to a canceled performance? Convert that fee into a donation. While many ticket sellers, including TDF, issue automatic refunds for canceled performances, consider donating those funds to the theatre if it's a nonprofit. Insurance will not come to the rescue of not-for-profit companies, and many will inevitably struggle to pay their bills, so monetary gifts are desperately needed.
2. Donate to independent theatre artists directly or through a fund. Have a favorite independent artist you'd like to support? Many creators have Patreon accounts where fans can pay a membership fee to see their work. Other out-of-work artists and theatre staffers are asking for donations to their Venmo accounts via Twitter, and have attracted some big-name patrons, including The Cher Show Tony winner Stephanie J. Block. Alternatively, you can donate to a general fundraiser for freelance artists. The Indie Theater Fund is awarding rapid relief grants of up to $500 to small NYC companies, venues and artists; while Artist Relief Tree (ART) is doling out $250 grants. The organization creative-capital.org has a list of other worthy funds that are helping artists during this crisis.
3. Watch live-streamed performances in exchange for donations. Many artists and nonprofit organizations are sharing their creations and talents online via live video platforms. You can usually watch for free, but contributions are encouraged. If you enjoy a virtual performance, show your appreciation by sending some bucks.
4. Buy a ticket for a future performance. Although it's uncertain when theatres will reopen (we're hoping the mid-April target date won't need to be pushed), some productions are selling tickets for future performances. Spending your money now for something you can look forward to will help get shows through. That said, most nonprofits have ceased selling tickets. In those cases, consider a tax-deductible donation.
5. Know any theatre artists? Ask if they're conducting online workshops. Over the past few insane days, I've seen many artists offering a wide variety of virtual instruction, including acting coaching, press release writing, singing lessons, etc. Everyone wants to find a way to continue to work while maintaining social distance. So get on social media and find out who's offering creative classes online. Art is going to help us get through this.
Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.