New York City Center and the Arts Infrastructure of New York City
New York City Center and the Arts Infrastructure of New York City<br />
Purpose and Rationale of Research<br />Understand the position of New York City Center and its resident companies in the arts landscape of New York City. <br />As Broadway becomes increasingly unaffordable and tourist-oriented, the companies at City Center continue to provide artistically satisfying and affordable dance and theatre productions. Additionally, despite its location in Manhattan, City Center designs programs to reach the outer boroughs, especially through its education initiatives.<br />“In the United States, the art and cultural sector’s presumed ability to stimulate economic development, at both regional and neighborhood scales, is one of the most frequently invoked rationales for cultural planning.”<br />By focusing specifically on two of the resident theatrical companies, Manhattan Theatre Club and The Pearl Theatre Company and the Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert series, which is presented on the Main Stage, a more direct comparison can be drawn between non-profit theatre and commercial productions on Broadway.<br />
Research Questions<br />What is the position of New York City Center and its resident companies in the arts landscape of New York City?<br />How does the partnership between the city and the private foundations and corporations that fund City Center affect the programming choices made?<br />What are the giving patterns of some of the foundations that fund City Center and its resident companies? Where does City Center and its mission and performance history fit into this pattern?<br />
Local Arts Ecology<br />“The local arts ecology is made up of three components: the arts infrastructure, their support structures, and the community contexts in which they operate.”<br /> - Arts and Culture in the Metropolis: Strategies for Sustainability<br />
New York City’s Arts Infrastructure: Broadway Theatres<br /><ul><li>40 active Broadway houses, including the not-pictured Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center.
Broadway theatres must have at least 500 seats; the largest active house (The Gershwin) has 1,933 seats.
31 of the houses are</li></ul> operated by the three major theatrical organizations: the Shubert Organization, the Nederlander Organization and Jujamcyn Amusement Corporation.<br /><ul><li> Roundabout Theatre Company (three theatres), Lincoln Center Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club are the most prominent non-profit Broadway producers.</li></ul>Source: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/30/theater/stages.html<br />
Supporting the Arts: Foundations<br />“When it comes to charitable contributions, competition is greater between arts and cultural organizations and among the nonprofit arts organizations than between arts and entertainment organizations. This competition for dollars (both earned and contributed) is one of the primary challenges to the sustainability of the arts infrastructure.”<br /> - Arts and Culture in the Metropolis: Strategies for Sustainability<br />One of the largest donors to MTC, The Shubert Foundation has given over $70,000,000 in grants to theatre organizations. Of that money, MTC has received eight grants totaling $1,680,000. The Roundabout Theatre Company, while Lincoln Center Theatre has received six grants totaling $1,650,000. <br />The Shubert Foundation is also one of the most consistent funders of the Encores! concerts, regularly granting between $80,000 and $90,000 in support of each season.<br />In addition to The Shubert Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation has given grants of $100,000 per season for the Encores! series. This is in line with Newman’s emphasis on grant making for recreation and arts and culture.<br />As a theatre company that is smaller both in scope and operating budget, the Pearl relies on grants from a larger pool of grantors that are of lesser amounts than either MTC or the Encores! series.<br />
Supporting the Arts: Local Government<br />As a city-owned institution, City Center receives support from the Department of Cultural affairs, which is essential in a city that does not have the policies in place to support its expansive arts infrastructure. <br />Of the $75 million required for City Center’s capital campaign, the City contributed slightly more than $35 million, or roughly half of the investment. <br />Due to the United States not having the same history of government-funded arts as countries in Europe, there is no stability in government funding for arts and culture. As a city-owned institution, City Center has been fortunate in being recognized as an important part of New York City’s arts infrastructure.<br /><ul><li>In addition to funding from cultural agencies at the national, state and local level, City Center receives monetary support from several city agencies and government figures.
This partnership with agencies such as the Department for the Aging, the Department of Education and the Department on Youth and Community Development speaks to the importance of integrating the arts into other areas of city life and governance.</li></li></ul><li>New York City Center: A Brief History<br /><ul><li> Constructed in 1923 as a meeting hall for the members of the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.
Under Mayor LaGuardia in 1943, City Center opened its doors as Manhattan’s first performing arts complex. The 2,750 seat main stage was to become a center for theatre, music, and dance.
After the New York City Opera and New York City Ballet companies moved to Lincoln Center, City Center rededicated itself to hosting the best in dance and theatre.
Currently, City Center is undergoing extensive renovations to the façade and the Main Stage. When renovations are completed in fall of 2011, the Main Stage will have approximately 2,200 seats. </li></ul>Source: wikipedia.org<br />
Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert<br />The mission of the Encores! concerts is to present rarely-performed shows with acclaimed scores by American musical theatre composers. Following the inaugural season in 1994, each season is comprised of three celebrated, if unfamiliar, scores. These scores, complete with original orchestrations, are performed by a full orchestra and a cast of Broadway stars.<br />Today, many Broadway shows do not feature full orchestras. Additionally, many of the shows presented as part of the Encores! series would not be viable on Broadway as commercial productions, often due to a problematic book, changes in theatrical aesthetics or lack of a suitable leading actor.<br />Four shows originally presented at Encores! found their way to commercial runs on Broadway, with mixed success. The currently-running revival of Chicago was originally presented as the final show of the 1996 season of Encores! before opening as a commercial production on Broadway in November of the same year.<br /><ul><li>The three other transfers, Wonderful Town, Gypsy (2008), and Finian’s Rainbow were all met with critical acclaim but did not achieve the commercial success of Chicago.</li></ul>“The latest transfer from the beloved City Center Encores! series of musicals in concert, ‘Finian’s Rainbow’ is also the most unlikely. Pretty much nobody expected to see this oddity cavorting beneath a Broadway proscenium again, although the original production was a solid hit that ran for a year and a half when it opened in 1947. Since then the show has come to be considered too corny, too confused, too tainted by misconceptions about its racial politics.”<br />- Charles Isherwood, A Pot of Sunny Gold in Those Green Hills; The New York Times, October 30, 2009.<br />
Manhattan Theatre Club<br />Established in 1970; moved to its current location on the lower level of New York City Center in 1984. <br />Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) aims to nurture new playwrights and present an array of new works to diverse audiences.<br />Past notable productions have included the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined (2009), Rabbit Hole (2007) and Doubt: A Parable (2005).<br /><ul><li>Doubt was the third play of John Patrick Shanley’s to premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club that was funded by a grant from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. This trust was established to continue to tradition of great new American plays.</li></ul>In addition to its off-Broadway home, MTC operates the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre as a Broadway Theatre. <br />“It is always safer to fund, say, the millionth revival of Hamlet than it is to support a play about a Catholic priest who may or may not have abused boys in his charge. […] a self-righteous nun’s struggle with her own perception of possible offenses by a young priest takes us into emotional, spiritual, and intellectual realms that are powerfully human – and present collateral risks to artists, theaters, and their funders.<br /> - Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, Funding the Theatrical Future: The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust<br />
Pearl Theatre Company<br />MTC’s neighbor on the lower level of City Center, The Pearl Theatre Company has committed itself to developing a strong resident company with a repertory focused on the classics.<br />For presenting “notable productions of classic plays and nurturing a stalwart resident company of actors,” the Pearl is being honored with a special award as part of the 2011 Drama Desk Awards.<br />
Cultivating New Audiences:Education Beyond Manhattan<br /><ul><li> Parents and other New Yorkers emphasize the importance of arts and culture educational programs. In a large city like New York, it is especially important to provide arts programs to students in schools outside of Midtown.
6,000 students from forty schools participated in at least one educational program at City Center during the 2009-10 season.</li></ul>Source: http://www.nycitycenter.org/content/education/partners.aspx/<br />Students from an additional school on Long Island also participated in the education programs.<br />
Cultivating New Audiences:Affordable Ticketing <br />According to a report released by the New York Foundation for the Arts, approximately seventy percent of New Yorkers stated that they would be more likely to attend musical and theatrical performances if it were more affordable.<br />With top ticket prices for Broadway shows regularly $120 and over, it becomes increasingly difficult to not only attend a single show, but to make a regular habit of theatre-going.<br /><ul><li>There are initiatives in place for affordable ticketing, such as the TKTS Booth run by the Theatre Development Fund and various rush and lottery policies in place for shows, but nearly all of them are day-of policies that can be skewed towards students who have the time and ability to sit outside a theatre for hours waiting for a cheap ticket.
City Center, MTC and The Pearl all have initiatives in place to allow audience members to purchase more affordable tickets in advance. These initiatives include the Peer-to-Peer discount for $10 for students and MTC’s 30 Under 30 program, in addition to lower regular ticket prices.</li></li></ul><li>Works Cited<br />Jenkins, Jeffrey Eric. "Funding the Theatrical Future: The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust." In Angels in the American Theater: Patrons, Patronage, and Philanthropy, edited by Robert A. Schanke, 242-258. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007.<br /> <br />Manhattan Theatre Club. MTC: Manhattan Theatre Club. http://www.manhattantheatreclub.org.<br /> <br />Markusen, Ann. Arts and Culture in Urban/Regional Planning: A Review and Research Agenda. Working Paper, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2009.<br /> <br />McCarthy, Kevin F., Elizabeth Heneghan Ondaatje, and Jennifer L. Novak. Arts and Culture in the Metropolis: Strategies for Sustainability. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2007.<br /> <br />New York City Center. "2009-2010 Programming Narrative."<br />—. New York City Center. http://www.nycitycenter.org.<br />New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. <br />http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/html/home/home.shtml<br />New York Foundation for the Arts. "Culture Counts: Strategies for a More Vibrant Cultural Life in New York City." New York City, 2001.<br /> <br />The Pearl Theatre Company. The Pearl Theatre Company. http://www.pearltheatre.org.<br /> <br />Pogrebin, Robin. "City Center to Begin $75 Million Renovation." The New York Times. New York, March 16, 2010.<br /> <br />Renner, Anna-Theresa. "An Economic Analysis of Public Cultural Subsidies." Graduate Thesis, University of Vienna, Vienna, 2010.<br />