Gray Lady Generates New Theatre Grant Fund

In a significant expansion of its arts-based philanthropic activities in the New York City area, The New York Times Company Foundation has announced a new grant-making instrument focused on not-for-profit theatres: The New York Times Company Foundation Fund for Mid-Size Theatres. The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./NY) has been named as the conduit through which the funds will be disbursed.

Also, the Lucille Lortel Foundation has announced general operating grants, totaling $500,000 to small and midsize theatres in the New York City area, while down in Kentucky, the Humana Foundation has announced a $1.95 million grant that will allow Actors Theatre of Louisville to continue its annual festival of new American plays for three more years.

The New York Times Company Foundation Fund, as its first gesture, announced its first set of grants totaling $70,000 to 30 theatre companies. Among the nonprofits on the list: Classic Stage Company, LAByrinth Theater Company, The New Group, Primary Stages, Thalia Spanish Theatre, and The Wooster Group.

A.R.T./NY is a service organization for New York City's ever-growing nonprofit theatre community and it already helps to operate a fund that bestows grants to modest-sized organizations: The JPMorgan Chase Fund for Small Theatres. In recognition of that fund's efforts to date, The New York Times Company Foundation Fund for Mid-Size Theatres has also made a contribution to it of $30,000, bringing the overall largesse to an even $100,000.

For nonprofit theatre companies, what is particularly important about the new fund is the fact that it makes general operating grants, which in the development world tend to be hard to come by. Like grants from the JPMorgan Chase Fund and the Lucille Lortel Foundation, the grants are reserved for organizations in a hard-to-fund category: those with modest annual budgets, in this case between $500,000 and $5 million.

The JPMorgan Chase Fund offers general operating support to groups with annual budgets between $100,000 and $500,000 and the Lucille Lortel Foundation offers general operating grants to groups with annual budgets between $250,000 and $2 million.

As part of the New York Times fund announcement, A.R.T./NY also disclosed that the next set of grantees from the JPMorgan Chase Fund will be made public this July and will total $155,000.

Following is a complete list of recipients of grants from The New York Times Company Foundation Fund for Mid-Size Theatres (specific funding levels are confidential): Amas Musical Theatre, Aquila Theatre Company, Black Spectrum Theatre, The Builders Association, Classic Stage Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Flea Theatre, The Foundry Theatre, HERE Arts Center, INTAR Theatre, The Irish Repertory Theatre, Jean Cocteau Repertory, La MaMa E.T.C., Labyrinth Theater Company, The Lark Theatre Company, Mabou Mines, MCC Theater, Musical Theatre Works, The New Group, New York Theatre Workshop, The Paper Bag Players, Ping Chong & Company, Pregones Theater, Primary Stages, Queens Theatre in the Park, Repertorio Español, Signature Theatre Company, Tada! Youth Theatre, Thalia Spanish Theatre, and The Wooster Group.

Lortel Spreads the Wealth

Nonprofit performance-arts organizations—when not celebrating the decision of The New York Times Company Foundation to create a new fund for theatres—are also celebrating the newest set of grants from the Lucille Lortel Foundation, which announced its latest bit of largesse on Mon., May 3. Half a million dollars in grants ranging in size from $5,000 to $25,000 will go to a total of 56 groups.

To date, the foundation has distributed more than $1 million in grants to dozens of theatre companies. The foundation is also known for its high approval rate: This year, 68 organizations applied and 56 grants were issued, a startlingly high number by any perspective. Eligible applicants must be a professional, nonprofit producing organization in New York City in operation for at least three years, and neither dance nor opera companies are eligible.

Following is a list of theatre companies winning Lortel grants this year: 52nd Street Project, Abingdon Theatre Company, The Actors Company Theatre, Amas Musical Theatre, Aquila Theatre Company, Atlantic Theater Company, The Builders Association, Cherry Lane Alternative, Classic Stage Company, The Culture Project, The Directors Company, Dixon Place, Drama Dept., Ensemble Studio Theatre, Epic Theatre Center, The Flea Theater, Foundry Theatre, Inside Broadway, INTAR, Irish Repertory Theatre, Jean Cocteau Repertory, La MaMa E.T.C., Labyrinth Theatre Company, The Lark Theatre Company, Mabou Mines, Ma-Yi Filipino Theatre Ensemble, MCC Theater, Melting Pot Theatre, The Mint Theater, New Federal Theatre, The New Group, Ontological-Hysteric Theatre, Pan Asian Rep, The Paper Bag Players, Pearl Theatre Company, Pick Up Performance Group, Ping Chong, The Play Company, Primary Stages, P.S. 122, Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre Company, Rattlestick Productions, The SITI Company, Soho Repertory, Spanish Repertory Theatre, Tada!, Target Margin, Teatro Pregones, Thalia Spanish Theatre, Urban Stages, Vineyard Theatre, Westbeth Entertainment, Women's Project & Productions, The Wooster Group, York Theatre Company, Young Playwrights Festival.

Hurtling Humana Ahead

After more than a quarter-century, the Humana Foundation's funding of the Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival of New American Plays has become one of the longest continual corporate contributions to an American performing arts institution.

There's no question it has paid dividends: three Pulitzer Prize-winning plays—"Dinner With Friends" (2000), "Crimes of the Heart" (1981), and "The Gin Game" (1978)—have come through it. Other works have won American Theatre Critics Association awards and Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Obie, and New York Drama Critics Circle awards.

To celebrate the 300 plays that have been produced at the Humana Festival so far, the Humana Foundation has announced it will extend its fiscal commitment to the festival through 2007, pledging an additional $1.95 million in support.

Marc Masterson, the venue's current artistic director, was clearly exultant. "The foundation's partnership is a testament to corporate forward-thinking, artistic will and the indomitable spirit of the contemporary playwright," he said in a written statement.

The dates for the next festival have also been set: Feb. 25-April 9, 2005.