The Lower East Side theatre Todo con Nada has a new lease on life, as long as it can pay the rent on the lease.
Nada, as the company is usually known, owes its landlord nearly $25,000 in back rent, a sum that Artistic Director Aaron Beall told Back Stage is not impossible to collect. The troupe held a fundraiser Mon., Oct. 16, generating $16,000 in donations and pledges for another $8,000-9,000. The problem was that the property owners had given the theatre only until the following day to hand in the full amount.
Nada got its day in court Thurs., Oct. 26, appealing to Civil and Housing Court Judge Lucy Billings. Billings initiated new eviction proceedings that day, which gave Nada two weeks to get all the money together.
"This week is all about raising the money, closing the gap, and coming up with a compelling business model for the future," Beall told Back Stage this week.
Like many other directors of small theatres, Beall said he is concerned about the effect of rising rents on New York theatre, "and not only in Manhattan, but Brooklyn, too."
Beall said that the owner of the theatre's Ludlow St. space when Nada moved in "had a great relationship with us: we fought all the time, but we knew the theatre was appreciated." That changed when a consortium called Ludlow Properties bought the property for $3.5 million three years ago.
"As Ludlow St. has become hot, the value of the space has risen, and I'm sure they would like to see us go," Beall said, "but we have two more years on the lease at current market rents.
"After that, I don't know. New York is becoming the Emerald City of the world, and the rents in Emerald City are awfully high."
Beall ruefully discussed the city's outreach to Disney, and how those efforts are not extended to Off-Broadway or Off-Off-Broadway companies, saying, "As always it's more difficult for the little guy because of the concessions big companies get.
"The 60-seat theatres are essential to the ecosystem of New York, but they're disappearing. The irony is that it takes millions of dollars just to keep something small."