Theater for the New City's Mortgage Burning took place on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at TNC, 155 First Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets (East Village). Participants included F. Murray Abraham
, David Amram, Charles Busch, Vinie Burrows, City Council Member Rosie Mendez, Assistant Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Kathleen Hughes, Jean-Claude van Itallie, Thunderbird American Indian Dancers and surprise guests. Check out photos from the event below!
The gathering included testimonials, performances, reading of a proclamation from the City Council, and the opening of an art exhibit. The Thunderbird American Indian Dancers blessed TNC's newly-secured permanent home, as they did in 1986 when the theater first moved into its permanent home in the former First Avenue Retail Market Building. A plaque was unveiled that contains the names of all donors--over 100 in number--who contributed toward the mortgage payoff.
Coinciding with the mortgage event was the opening of a retro-spectacle, "TNC: 40 Years of Struggle and Triumph," an art exhibit curated by Peter Ketchum with some historical support from Carolyn Ratcliff. It features programs, scripts, and photos of historic TNC productions including plays by Charles Ludlam, Maria Irene Fornes and Sam Shepard.
The theater's mortgage started out at $717,000 in 1987 and the campaign to pay it off took only three years. With the "Fiscal Cliff" staring the country in the face, the payoff was accomplished by mobilizing over 200 donors. The mortgage campaign had been initiated with a $30,000 gift from the Peg Santvoord Foundation in 2010. This early money notwithstanding, the completed campaign now testifies to the tremendous support TNC enjoys from its community. This year, the final $45,000 was secured. Major donors included Gerald Rupp, the Peg Santvoord Foundation, Aviva Spring, Betsy von Furstenberg, Daniel Rose, Nesbitt Blaisdell. The Peg Santvoord Foundation gave a final $10,000 as a coup de grace.
Crystal Field, Executive Artistic Director of TNC, says, "The economic downturn scared us, as did the fact that so many people were losing their homes because of their mortgages. Government grants were going down. It made us realize that Theater for the New City must have a guaranteed home, since we are a home for so many emerging artists: writers, directors, actors and theater companies." She adds, "TNC lives frugally and is now debt-free. At least we know now that they will never build another Wal-Mart on this site."
Theater for the New City (TNC) is a Pulitzer Prize winning community cultural center that is known for its high artistic standards and widespread community service. One of New York's most prolific theatrical organizations, TNC produces 30-40 premieres of new American plays per year, at least 10 of which are by emerging and young playwrights. Many influential theater artists of the last quarter century have found TNC's Resident Theater Program instrumental to their careers, among them Sam Shepard, Moises Kaufman, Richard Foreman, Charles Busch, Maria Irene Fornes, Miguel Piñero, Jean-Claude van Itallie, Vin Diesel, Oscar Nuñez, Laurence Holder, Romulus Linney, Robert Patrick, Eduardo Machado and Academy Award Winners Tim Robbins and Adrien Brody. TNC also presents plays by multi-ethnic/multi-disciplinary theater companies who have no permanent home. Among the well-known companies that have been presented by TNC are Mabou Mines, The Living Theater, Bread and Puppet Theater, The Talking Band and COBU, the Japanese women's drumming and dance group. TNC also produced the Yangtze Repertory Company's 1997 production of "Between Life and Death," which was the only play ever produced in America by Gao Xingjian before he won the 2000 Nobel Prize for Literature. TNC seeks to develop theater audiences and inspire future theater artists from the often-overlooked low-income minority communities of New York City by producing minority writers from around the world and by bringing the community into theater and theater into the community through its many free Festivals. TNC productions have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and over 42 OBIE Awards for excellence in every theatrical discipline. TNC is also the only Theatrical Organization to have won the Mayor's Stop The Violence award.
Theater for the New City's Executive Artistic Director Crystal Field and playwright/actor Charles Busch. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.
City Council member Rosie Mendez bestows a proclamation to Crystal Field. Photo by Adele Bossard.
David Czycyk, Community Liaison for Borough President Scott Stringer, congratulates TNC's Crystal Field. The Borough President named January 26 Theater forthe New City Appreciation Day. Photo by Adele Bossard.
David Amram (left) plays a duet with his son, Adam Amram (right). Photo by Adele Bossard.