Saturday, November 29, 2008

Will Robert B. Tierney, Chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Exposed in the New York Times, Resign?

New York Times reporter Robin Pogrebin is back today with a powerful follow-up to her earlier piece that exposes how the painful, inexplicable and unforgivably slow pace of the work of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is damaging, often irrevocably, the cause of historic preservation in our precious, ever-threatened Gotham.

This new article, called "Preservationists See Bulldozers Charging Through a Loophole," is all about what happens as a result of the egregious, arguably immoral lassitude of LPC Chairman Robert B. Tierney -- who author Anthony C. Wood has called "a guy who’s had no demonstrable interest in historic preservation, who has the most important preservation job in New York City.” What happens? Here's what happens, according to Pogrebin:

Hours before the sun came up on a cool October morning in 2006, people living near the Dakota Stables on the Upper West Side were suddenly awakened by the sound of a jackhammer.

Soon word spread that a demolition crew was hacking away at the brick cornices of the stables, an 1894 Romanesque Revival building, on Amsterdam Avenue at 77th Street, that once housed horses and carriages but had long served as a parking garage.

In just four days the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission was to hold a public hearing on pleas dating back 20 years to designate the low-rise building, with its round-arched windows and serpentine ornamentation, as a historic landmark.

But once the building’s distinctive features had been erased, the battle was lost. The commission went ahead with its hearing, but ultimately decided not to designate the structure because it had been irreparably changed. Today a 16-story luxury condominium designed by Robert A. M. Stern is rising on the site: the Related Companies is asking from $765,000 for a studio to $7 million or more for a five-bedroom unit in the building.

This is obviously outrageous, and Pogrebin provides multiple examples of how Tierney's evident, if well camoflaged, hostility to the cause of preservation is creating a culture of sneaking and lying and deceit and, for all we know, double-dealing. That Robert A. M. Stern, of all people, is participating in this rape of the New York City I love leaves me speechless. Can it be that Robert A. M. Stern is an ememy of all that is good in America?

And what are we going to go about this problem of the LPC's ineffectuality causing the systematic destruction of designation-worthy structures in New York City. Should Tierney, for example, admit to his ineptitude -- and his careless attitude toward the idea of preservation -- and step down? You'd think that such an emperor, devoid of clothes, might do so. But only if we protest.

To be fair, it's not as if Tierney does not present a vigorous defense:

“In the middle of the night I’m out there at 2 in the morning, and they’re taking the cornices off,” said Gale Brewer, a city councilwoman who represents that part of the Upper West Side. “We’re calling the Buildings Department, we’re calling Landmarks. You get so beaten down by all of this. The developers know they can get away with that.”

The number of pre-emptive demolitions across the city may be relatively small, but preservationists say the phenomenon is only one sign of problems with the city’s mechanism for protecting historic buildings.

“This administration is so excited about the new that it overlooks its obligation to protect the old,” said Anthony C. Wood, author of “Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City’s Landmarks.”

In an interview Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, called end-run alterations and demolitions “a terrible situation and a complete misuse of the process.”

He added that the commission was trying to address the issue. Before putting a property on the calendar for landmark consideration, for example, Mr. Tierney or the commission’s staff members meet with owners to explain the potential benefits of landmark designation —a federal tax credit for repairs or improvements, for example — in the hope of enlisting cooperation or even support.

“Owner consent is not required, but I strongly try to obtain it whenever possible,” Mr. Tierney said. “It helps the process going forward. It’s not a continually contentious relationship.”

But one must wonder just how vigorous Tierney is in his approach -- and take note of how Stern, whose work I absolutely worship, tries to wiggle out of responsibility for the unnecessary end to a sterling building:

In the case of Dakota Stables, some preservationists have accused the landmarks commission of deliberately dragging its heels. “The commission had no intention of designating Dakota Stables,” said Kate Wood, the executive director of Landmark West!, a preservation group. “They waited until it had been torn down. It was clearly too late for them to do anything meaningful.”

“It was all so carefully orchestrated,” she added. “It was politics. It was all just theater.”

But Mr. Tierney said he fought genuinely hard to have the case heard. “It was knock-down, drag-out time trying to do everything we could do to have a fair and open hearing on that building,” he said.

He also said he was “extremely unhappy with how the owners proceeded” on Dakota Stables and on Paterson Silks, yet added, “That’s two out of thousands — not to minimize them.”

Mr. Stern, the architect who designed the Harrison, the luxury condominiums replacing Dakota Stables, said the late-night demolition created “a controversial and awkward moment,” adding, “I don’t like to tear anything down if I don’t have to.”

And so I ask again: Should Chairman Tierney resign? And if not, what can he be doing faster and better? And how do we hold him to it?

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Arts Advocacy Update LXVIII

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of November 26, 2008:

London mayor unveils cultural strategy
Variety, 11/24/2008
London Mayor Boris Johnson "wants to encourage London’s youth to go to the opera and ballet as well as enjoy the more populist arts introduced by the previous Labor administration. The moves are part of the mayor’s cultural strategy for the capital in the next four years, unveiled Monday in his Cultural Metropolis document. Key elements, to be implemented by Johnson’s director of cultural policy Munira Mirza, include increasing the cultural education of young people as well as cutting the red tape involved in producing cultural events."
But will Mayor Bloomberg create a minister of culture? Hmmm...only if he/she isn't term limited, I suppose.

Oyster card for the arts in Mayor's culture masterplan
Evening Standard (UK), 11/24/2008
"An 'Oyster card' for the arts, giving free or cheap entry to events and venues, could be handed out to Londoners under plans announced by the Mayor today. The electronic pass would provide access to museums, theatres and sports centres for the elderly and children in care, and could eventually be extended to all schoolchildren. . . . The idea is set out as part of a wider strategy by Boris Johnson to boost London's cultural life."
Putting some mussel into the scene, I suppose.

Wanted: More arts venues
Greensboro News Record (NC), 11/23/2008
In Greensboro, NC, "performers struggle to find a well-suited place to play." The symphony, for example, played a recent pops concerts at a "mega-church." The issue has been often studied and debated in recent years, "but little has changed. . . . [N]ow community-development group Action Greensboro will consider whether to pay for a study and long-term plan that looks at all city performing arts facilities - sometime in the next 3 to 5 years."
Slow change, but change nonetheless. Yes we can. Here's to you, Greensboro.

Arts District hit hard by sluggish sales
Vineland Daily Journal (NJ), 11/22/2008
In Millville, NJ, businesses in the arts district are struggling. "[T]he city wants to help the owners 'stay afloat' on the hope the New Jersey Motorsports Park and a soon-to-be-renovated Levoy Theatre will bring more tourists. [Mayor James] Quinn and other city officials met with local owners recently at City Hall, and the city is working on a plan it hopes to unveil soon that could benefit the businesses."
Here's a link to the history of the Levoy Theatre.

FCC appeals Janet Jackson case to Supreme Court
Washington Post - AP, 11/21/2008
"The Federal Communications Commission has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the indecency case over Janet Jackson's breast-baring performance at the 2004 Super Bowl. The FCC this week appealed a ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, saying that court was wrong to throw out the case and a $550,000 fine against CBS Corp. in July. The appellate court cited the FCC practice of not considering objectionable images indecent if they are 'fleeting.'. . . The FCC contends the rule didn't apply to images."
Fleeting, indeed, are my memories of this totally dumb-ass incident.

Artists should have same tax deductions as collectors when donating works of art
The Art Newspaper, 11/19/2008
"By creating a tax incentive for these donations—donors receive a tax deduction for the fair market value of works of art they donate—the US Congress has supported the development of non- profit art institutions and expanded the public audience for art. But artists donating their own works receive a deduction only for the cost of materials used to create the work, for example canvas and paint. The Art Dealers Association of America believes this standard is inequitable and is lobbying the government to change the law. The Artist Museum Partnership Act is a bi-partisan bill currently before Congress that would allow artists to donate under the same conditions as art collectors."
The idea that this is even a possibility is encouraging. Just imagine a nation in which artists actually have some political -- and well as fiscal -- status.

City pledges $50,000 to help match arts grant
Charleston Post and Courier (SC), 11/26/2008
"The Charleston City Council voted Tuesday to contribute $50,000 from the city's hospitality fee fund to partially match an expected $250,000 grant from a private foundation that would aid the cash-strapped Charleston Stage, Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Charleston Ballet Theatre."
Given the size of the deficits these groups are running, let us hope this is enough to stave off bankruptcy in some of these cases. Read the article to see just how bad the numbers are.

High hopes for arts-friendly president
San Francisco Chronicle, 11/22/2008
The San Francisco Chronicle reports on Americans for the Arts' recent policy webinar. Although "[t]he Obama team was not ready to speak on the record about the specifics of any proposals," Americans for the Arts staff praised his platform on the arts. Another dominating theme was the effect of the recession on funding. According to Massachusetts state senator Stan Rosenberg, "Facing plunging tax revenues and heavier obligations to fund the 'absolute necessities' of health care and education, states and cities will be hard-pressed to find money for other programs, including the arts." Creative political solutions will be key.
Of course! And keeping the pressure on, too.

Big Players Scale Back Charitable Donations
Wall Street Journal, 11/25/2008
"The pipeline from corporate America to the nation's charities is starting to dry up, as losses in the stock market mount and the U.S. recession deepens. With many large organizations depending on corporate largesse, their futures are suddenly uncertain. Billionaires and large banks are pulling back on commitments or scaling back pledges. Some generous givers, such as Bear Stearns Cos., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co., have folded or been bought. The pain is spreading to other big institutional donors and trickling down to New York's famously lavish charity-gala scene, which is suffering lower turnouts and fund-raising hauls. On Monday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it would slow the pace of grants next year -- a sign that even the titans of philanthropy are rattled by current economic conditions."
Waaaah, for the Gates Foundation. A billion here, a billion there -- so what? And the Gates Foundation isn't arts-supporting in any event.

Hard times for the arts
Baltimore Sun, 11/23/2008
"Due to stock market turmoil, endowments [are dropping], limiting the money that can be withdrawn for operating expenses. State grants have been cut significantly. And some arts groups have seen a drop in ticket sales. . . . Stories of the economy's impact on the arts pop up almost daily around the country. Within the last few weeks, Opera Pacific in Southern California's wealthy Orange County closed its doors. A little farther north, a consortium of orchestras in Pasadena canceled half of this season's remaining concerts and furloughed its executive director. Despite strong advance ticket sales, the Washington National Opera has postponed its much-anticipated production of Wagner's Ring, a four-part cycle of operas, because the company could not find donors for the remaining $5 million-plus needed for the project. At the San Francisco Opera and New York's Metropolitan Opera, there is talk of fewer and less expensive productions next season."
This isn't news, but it doesn't have a good perspective on what any of us with a brain should be calling a major crisis in the making.

Loss of Connection Leading Reason Wealthy Donors Stop Giving, Study Finds
Philanthropy News Digest, 11/25/2008
"Nearly 60 percent of wealthy households who stop giving to a charitable organization attribute the change in their philanthropic behavior to no longer feeling connected to the organization, a new study from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and Bank of America finds. . . . Other reasons why wealthy donors discontinue their giving include deciding to support other causes (51 percent) and feeling they are being solicited too often (42 percent). The report also found that wealthy donors have high expectations of charitable organizations and cite sound business practices (93 percent) and spending an appropriate amount on overhead (88 percent) as the top factors in determining which organizations they decide to support. According to the report, a desire to give back to the community was the leading motivation for giving (81 percent), while public recognition was essentially a non-factor (10 percent)."
What I don't understand is how being solicited too often constitutes "loss of connection."

Wallace Foundation awards $7.7M to local arts groups
Seattle Times (WA), 11/19/2008
"The New York-based Wallace Foundation arts and cultural philanthropy will award $7.7 million to nine Seattle arts groups and the Washington State Arts Commission, with groups receiving $500,000 to $750,000 grants aimed at audience development. . . . The effort is part of the nationwide Wallace Excellence Awards, which uses a "city-based" approach to broaden the audiences and visibility of visual- and performing-arts groups. Past city recipients include Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, with arts institutions in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., also receiving Wallace funds this year."
And New York? To hell with New York?

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'll be back posting on Friday.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We're Off to See Miss Tina Turner

Mario and Stephen and Ken and I are off to see Miss Tina Turner at the Prudential Center in Newark tonight.

Then it's onward to Thanksgiving.

I'll blog again on Friday.

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Where Are the New Composer/Lyricists?

Unlike 20 years ago, it seems to me, when everyone in the musical theater was terrified that there was no new talent out there, I think there's a great deal of talent -- as well as interest -- out there today. Just ask the New York Musical Theatre Festival peeps, for example. Even so, some information on this showcase came across the transom today and I felt it would be useful to promote it. Let me know if anyone goes!

Kef Productions Announces Lineup for
Artists Rising
Composer/Lyricist Showcase

Kef productions is thrilled to announce the lineup of composers, lyricists and performers whose work will be presented in ARTISTS RISING on Friday, December 12th and Saturday, December 13th (both shows at 8:00 PM) in the Lion Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street. Tickets are $18.00 and available at

The composers and lyricists include Brad Alexander (See Rock City), Janet Allard, David H. Bell (Hot Mikado), Rob Broadhurst, Nathan Christensen, Julianne Wick Davis, Carmel Dean (…Spelling Bee vocal arrange.), Jeremy Desmon, Ed Dixon (Sunday in the Park with George, The Grinch as performer), Kyle Ewalt, Vadim Feichtner (…Spelling Bee MD), Kevin Fisher, Anna K. Jacobs, Rachel Jett, Steven Lutvak (Kleban Award for Lyric Writing; Fred Ebb Award for Songwriting), Adam Mathias (See Rock City), Dianne Adams McDowell (Starmites vocal arrange.), Scott Murphy, Matte O'Brien, Mac Rogers, Todd Schroeder, Niko Tsakalakos, Matt Vinson, Michael Walker, Jordana Williams and Sean Williams.

ARTISTS RISING will be directed by Adam Fitzgerald with music direction by Michael Pesce. Eddie Rabon will host the evening with Matt Vinson at the piano.

The current line up of performers includes Tracy Bersley, Justin Brill (High Fidelity, All Shook Up, Rent ), Kristy Cates (Wicked), Alexis Fishman (Shout!), Demond Green (The Wiz, La Jolla), David Gurland, Simotra Houston, Rob Maitner (Best of Fringe award for Poor Superman), Carrie Manolakos (Mamma Mia! Nat’l tour), Michael Pesce, Niko Tsakalkos, Michael-August Turley, Sally Wilfert (Assassins) and Cassie Wooley.

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The Afternoon Report, November 26, 2008

This information, called The Afternoon Report, is provided by a daily email blast from the publicity firm of Boneau Bryan-Brown, which maintains this blog.

Andre Tchaikowsky bequeaths skull to Royal Shakespeare Company
Herald Sun – by Charles Miranda

“Andre Tchaikowsky, a concert pianist and composer, never achieved his dream of becoming an actor, so he bequeathed his skull to the Royal Shakespeare Company. It has sat in a box in the props department, untouched, for 25 years. Now, it has made its stage debut at a Hamlet production in Shakespeare's former town of Stratford-upon-Avon, starring TV's Doctor Who David Tennant. "It was sort of a shock tactic, though of course to some extent that wears off and it's just Andre in his box," production director Greg Doran said. The pianist, who died at 46 of cancer, left the rest of his body to science.
It sat in Yikes, kids.

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New York Times Runs Expose on Landmarks Preservation Commission: Should Chairman Tierney Resign?

There is a great story in today's Times -- by one of its most dogged and thorough arts reporters, Robin Pogrebin -- on the maddeningly slow pace of the New York City Landmarks Commission's work. Anyone who has had anything remotely to do with preservationism in this town knows what this article is all about. It's tight and smart -- and it makes you wonder what next year's mayoral election is going to look like.

(I know, I know: no one is going to vote for or against Mayor Bloomberg on the basis on what his political appointee, commission head Robert B. Tierney, has or hasn't been doing during his five years as the chair of the LPC. But if you look at the news landscape lately, there have been a lot more articles focusing on city government, such as the pieces last week on how Bloomberg said the city couldn't afford the $400 rebates for homeowners and the City Council forced his people to admit that the mayor didn't have the legal authority to withhold their distribution.)

The question, meanwhile, as a result of Pogrebin's piece is whether Chairman Tierney should step down.

Highlights of the article:

A six-month examination of the commission’s operations by The New York Times reveals an overtaxed agency that has taken years to act on some proposed designations, even as soaring development pressures put historic buildings at risk. Its decision-making is often opaque, and its record-keeping on landmark-designation requests is so spotty that staff members are uncertain how many it rejects in a given year.

In dozens of interviews, residents who have proposed historic buildings or districts for consideration said they were often stonewalled by the commission, receiving formulaic responses or sometimes no response at all.
And there's this:
On some occasions the commission has taken so long to act that the building in question has been demolished or irretrievably altered.
And there's this:
“He’s a guy who’s had no demonstrable interest in historic preservation, who has the most important preservation job in New York City,” said Anthony C. Wood, author of “Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City’s Landmarks" (Routledge, 2008), and a party to the suit.

Also troubling to critics is the fact that the commission does not document the resolution of each nomination or even quantify how many it defers or rejects. Asked how many Requests for Evaluation they received in the last fiscal year, commission officials said they fielded roughly 200 in addition to nominations generated by the agency itself and its neighborhood surveys. They add that about one quarter never reach the commissioners (other than Mr. Tierney).
It's a great read. Let's hope for change. Yes we can.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Alliance for the Arts Puts Two New Websites on Beta Test

What a day for press releases! Got this interesting one from Alliance for the Arts, which is Launching and in beta test. Should be exciting once this is on its way.

Alliance for the Arts Launches and in Beta Testing

The Alliance for the Arts has launched the beta versions of its new and, the most complete, customizable and dynamic source of information on New York’s cultural institutions. Curated by people who know the scene, NYC ARTS provides an inside view of New York’s cultural life.

The NYC ARTS Web sites have launched during beta testing. The public is invited to participate in testing by submitting feedback through the “Send your feedback” button at the bottom of every page.
Locals and tourists will find in-depth information on cultural organizations and their events, programs and activities.
Educators and parents will find the most comprehensive information on cultural activities for children, including arts education programs that support teaching in many subject areas.

Alliance for the Arts Research Center
The research tools in the Alliance for the Arts Research Center will provide easy access to accurate quantitative data on the nonprofit cultural sector in New York City.

In the increasingly competitive entertainment environment, NYC ARTS and NYCkidsARTS ensure that New York City’s arts organizations stand out in the clutter of choices. The NYC ARTS brand is a powerful promotional identity both for large cultural institutions that command high visibility and smaller groups with less promotional muscle. Unlike commercial cultural listings that have a narrow focus, these sites give all arts groups equal opportunity to promote their programs and attract visitors. The power of the NYC ARTS sites extends beyond the walls of the Web sites with weekly e-mail updates, interest-specific RSS feeds and connections to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Cultural consumers need a strong brand to help them navigate the rich and diverse resources of New York City’s five boroughs. Through recommendations, curated collections and other features such as “Events ending soon,” the sites will be proactive in directing individuals to cultural opportunities they might otherwise overlook.

The City of New York is the major underwriter of NYC ARTS. Because the system supports hundreds of cultural organizations and their events in all five of the city’s boroughs—in effect shoring up the cultural infrastructure—the City of New York has invested $1.5 million in capital dollars for the first release of the system. It has also pledged additional enhancement funds for future releases of NYC ARTS.

New York’s philanthropic community has joined the City as investors in this project. Local foundations and corporations supported the research and development of NYC ARTS.

About the Alliance for the Arts
The Alliance for the Arts serves the entire cultural community through research and advocacy and serves the public through cultural guides and calendars. Through its NYC ARTS guides and calendars, the Alliance promotes New York cultural institutions. Through its research studies highlighting the importance of the arts to the economy and to education, the Alliance helps government and civic leaders understand the importance of cultural organizations to New York City. More information on the Alliance’s work can be found at the new

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Do Pigs Fly? The TOSOS Production of Chris Weikel's Pig Tale May Tell You

Got an email this morning about Chris Weikel's Pig Tale, which TOSOS is producing at the Wings Theatre in December/early January at Wings Theatre Company, part of that commpany's Gay Play Series.

Before I post the press release, though, let's everyone take note that director Mark Finley has created a blog, Telling Pig Tale, that promises to follow the progress of the show "from pre-production to closing night!" Welcome to the blogosphere, Mark, and please do keep posting.

Here, then, is the publicist's 411 on Pig Tale:

Set in the wilds of the East Village, Pig Tale is a witty, sexy urban faerie tale with a twist. When the handsome love interest suddenly turns into a real pig one night, his boyfriend has to wonder: doesn't that break all the rules of casual dating in the city? A look at what it takes for some humans - and especially some New Yorkers - to come to terms with commitment, cuddling and settling down together in that mythical house upstate.

As part of the Gay Play Series presented by Wings Theatre Company, this TOSOS The Other Side of Silence production of Pig Tale runs from December 5 to January 3, Mon-Thur-Fri-Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 3:30 pm (no performances Christmas Day or New Year's Day). Wings Theatre - 154 Christopher Street in the Archive Building (between Washington and Greenwich Streets); closest subway: 1 to Christopher St./Sheridan Square, walk west on Christopher. For reservations please call (212) 627-2961.

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Death of Journalism -- Remember That?

I've been laying off the death-of-journalism posts for awhile, but it might be instructive to plunk in three (relatively) new links so no one thinks we're out of the collective woods yet.

To wit:

USA Today to Cut About 20 Newsroom Jobs

Layoffs Begin at Entertainment Weekly, And They're Not Taking Volunteers [Update]

Salon Cuts Nine Staffers

Weinstein Co. Trims 11 Percent of Workforce

Associated Press staff to shrink 10 pct, CEO says
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Associated Press will trim 10 percent of its work force over the next year as a cut in fees paid by member newspapers and a declining economy take their toll, Chief Executive Tom Curley said Thursday.

The staff reduction will amount to a loss of more than 400 positions from a global staff of 4,100, and Curley said the cuts will include some of the news cooperative's 3,000 journalists.

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Adam Gwon Wins Fred Ebb Award

Just over the transom...


The Fred Ebb Foundation (Mitchell S. Bernard, Trustee) in association with the Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director) announced today that Adam Gwon has been awarded the fourth annual Fred Ebb Award. The invitation only award presentation and cocktail reception will take place on Monday, December 1, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. at The American Airlines Theatre's Penthouse Lobby (227 West 42nd Street). Five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman will present Mr. Gwon with his award. The Fred Ebb Award for Musical Theatre Songwriting is named in honor of the late award-winning lyricist Fred Ebb who passed away in September 2004.

The Fred Ebb Award recognizes excellence in musical theatre songwriting, by a songwriter or songwriting team that has not yet achieved significant commercial success. The award is meant to encourage and support aspiring songwriters to create new works for the musical theatre. The prize includes a $50,000 award. In addition to the monetary prize, the Fred Ebb Foundation will produce a one-night-only showcase of Adam's work in the spring of 2009. The Fred Ebb Foundation is funded by royalties from Mr. Ebb's vast catalogue of work. The selection panel includes Mitchell S. Bernard, Sheldon Harnick, David Loud, Marin Mazzie, Tim Pinckney and Arthur Whitelaw.

For more information, please visit

ADAM GWON is a composer and lyricist named one of "50 to Watch" by The Dramatist magazine. His musical Ordinary Days recently had its world premiere at Pennsylvania Centre Stage and its UK premiere at the Finborough Theatre in London, and was seen at the 2008 NAMT Festival of New Musicals. His other musicals include Bernice Bobs Her Hair (with librettist Julia Jordan) and Ethan Frome. Adam is currently working on an original musical with playwright Sarah Hammond, commissioned by Broadway Across America, and an adaptation of Joe Meno's "The Boy Detective Fails," commissioned by Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, as part of their American Musical Voices Project: The Next Generation. He was a 2006-07 musical theater fellow at the Dramatists Guild and is a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Visit

FRED EBB made incalculable contributions to the New York theatrical community as a writer, lyricist and director. Mr. Ebb is a Tony, Grammy, Emmy, Olivier and Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement Award winning recipient. Fred Ebb's first professional songwriting assignment came in 1953 when he and Phil Springer were hired by Columbia Records to write a song for Judy Garland called "Heartbroken." Mr. Ebb was introduced to composer John Kander in 1964 by music publisher Tommy Valando and became one of the most legendary songwriting teams in American history. The first successful collaboration was on the song "My Coloring Book," recorded by Barbra Streisand. Their second theatrical collaboration, Flora, the Red Menace, created a star out of Liza Minnelli in her Tony Award-winning Broadway debut. In 1966, their collaboration Cabaret, opened and received seven Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Score. A 1972 movie version of Cabaret starring Liza Minnelli was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won eight awards and was nominated for nine Golden Globe Awards and won three including Best Picture, Musical or Comedy. The same year, the songwriting team wrote a number of songs for Minnelli's television special "Liza With a Z," which received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Program - Variety or Popular Music. Other shows include The Happy Time (1968); Zorba (1968); 70, Girls, 70 (1971). In 1975, the two wrote the Broadway musical Chicago, directed by Bob Fosse and starring Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera and Jerry Orbach. The musical was successfully revived 20 years later at City Center ENCORES! and subsequently transferred to Broadway where it is currently the longest running revival in Broadway history. In 1977, the team collaborated with Martin Scorsese on the movie New York, New York; the title song was introduced by Minnelli and later recorded by Frank Sinatra becoming the unofficial theme song of New York City. The Minnelli Broadway vehicle The Act also opened that year. After a four-year absence, Mr. Ebb and Mr. Kander returned with Woman of the Year (1981), The Rink (1984), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993) and Steel Pier (1997). Miramax's 2002 feature film Chicago was nominated for 13 Academy Awards and won six, including Best Picture and was nominated for eight Golden Globe Awards and won three, including Best Picture, Musical or Comedy. In addition to the long running Chicago, Kander and Ebb were most recently represented on Broadway with the award winning production of Curtains which was nominated for 8 2008 Tony Awards.

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Reading of New Musical Based on Silas Marner Announced

Courtesy of publicist extraordinaire Scott Klein comes this announcement:

Plain Language Productions
Presents a reading of
A New Musical

December 5th

Plain Language Productions, Inc. will present a reading of the new musical, SILAS, ( based on George Eliot's novel Silas Marner, on Friday, December 5th at 11a.m. and 3:30p.m.

SILAS tells the story of Silas Marner, the weaver of Raveloe, a village in the midlands of England in the early 1800s. It is a tale of betrayal and redemption and binding power of family…family defined not by class or inheritance, but by the strength of mutual love.

The cast of SILAS includes Bradley Dean (Spamalot) as Silas as well as Jill Abramowitz (Martin Short: Fames Becomes Me), Brandi Burkhardt (A Tale of Two Cities), Charlotte Detrick (New York City Opera), Colin Donnell (Jersey Boys), Jason Dula (LingoLand), Michael Hayward-Jones (A Tale of Two Cities), Beth Kirkpatrick (Plain and Fancy), Curt Karibalis (A Month of Sundays), Brook Sunny Moriber (The Wild Party), Jack Noseworthy (Mother Courage), Chris A. Peluso (Mamma Mia!), Chelsea Jo Pattison (Captain Louie, Snoopy), Rebecca Robbins (A Tale of Two Cities), David Rossmer (Fiddler on the Roof), Matthew Schecter (Please Don't Eat The Daisies), Wayne Schroder (A Tale of Two Cities), Scarlett Sperduto, Rena Strober (Les Miserables), Nick Sullivan (Footloose), Darryl Winslow (Evil Dead), Cathy Trien (Gypsy), Mark Whitten (Captain Louie).

SILAS features a book by Anthony Stein (Captain Louie); music by TONY Award-winning orchestrator Bruce Coughlin; and lyrics by Michael Korie (Grey Gardens). SILAS is directed by Meridee Stein (Captian Louie), with Musical Direction by Wendy Bobbit Cavitt (Mamma Mia!).

SILAS is open to members of the Industry by invitation only. For more information, please go to

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Gerald Schoenfeld, 1924-2008

The longtime head of the Shubert Organization, Gerald Schoenfeld, has died.

Here is the link to a Playbill story, with a fuller obituary still to come.

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Shows Announced for 2009 New York Frigid Festival

As per the press release...

in association with
An Open and Uncensored Theater Festival
A CAFF Member festival

February 25th – March 8th, 2009
Monday thru Friday 6pm – Midnight
Saturday and Sunday 1pm – 1am
Tickets: $0 - $15
Tickets will be available on Smarttix @ 212-868-4444
Or online @

The Kraine Theater & The Red Room
85 E 4th St New York, NY 10003
No Wheelchair access

UNDER St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place New York, NY 10009
Basement Theater - No Wheelchair access

Riding the fringe of winter, the hit celebration of independent theater runs February 25-March 8th, 2009, boasting over 150 performances and 30 shows over 12 days in 3 theater’s, FRIGID New York will kick off the annual North American Fringe Circuit with a bang!

The FRIGID New York Festival was founded by Horse Trade and EXIT Theatre in 2007. Since founding The San Francisco Fringe Festival - the 2nd oldest fringe in the United States - nearly 17 years ago, EXIT has learned a thing or two about festival running. They introduced Horse Trade to the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) in mid-2006. Besides feedback from dozens of thrilled CAFF participants and artists, Horse Trade was drawn to its main principle: “…to provide all artists, emerging and established, with the opportunity to produce their play no matter the content, form or style and to make the event as affordable and accessible as possible for the members of the community,” Horse Trade is proud to sign on to the tradition and chill out the New York independent theater scene’s ideas of what a theatre festival can be. In true support of theatre on the fringe of the mainstream, the artists take home 100% of their box office, and the festival producers do not receive royalties from future performances....

Local Shows
95/turnpike/95: Chickens in Jersey International BTC
An absurdly slow day on the Jersey Turnpike takes a sudden turn when two-tollbooth attendants face impending doom barreling towards them… in the form of a truck filled with chickens.

Are We Freaks? Comedy Period
4 short stories about 8 abnormal women. Freaks and friends-who really is normal after all?
BAGS: Obsessions of a Hoardaholic Lee Michael Buckman
Glimpses of an obsessive personality and some of his adventures as he attempts desperately to cling onto objects and things that he thinks will help him navigate through life. While exploring and attempting to understand his OCD related instincts better, he searches for & finds the root of it.
Dalton Trambo’s Johnny Got His Gun Sleepless Lookout Players
Joe Bonham, rendered a blind and deaf quadriplegic in WWI. Through an intimate one-man performance, we explore the mind of a boy cut off from the world as he struggles to come to terms with the life he has lost.

Hysteri-Killy! A One Frrooklyneak Show Kelly B. Dwyer
A freaky, fantastic voyage through the mind of a manic depressive/cockeyed optimist, Hysteri-Killy! is a multi media, comedic performance art piece that uses original music, dance and film to create concept comedy with a strangetastic yet serious message.

Jet of Blood or the Ball of Glass No. 11 Productions
A visceral, violent look at and attack on humanity. Both funny and disturbing, this play is a tossed salad of Surrealism and Theatre of Cruelty, barraging all of the senses with ever-changing stimuli. And scorpions.

Live! the Cockpit: Will at Work with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men Loose Moon Productions
Back stage fun during a performance of the last act of Midsummer Night's Dream at the newly built 1599 Globe Theatre.

Melting in Madras Overcoat Theater
A darkly comic look at storyteller H.R. Britton’s quixotic “pilgrimage” to India. Evocative of the Subcontinent’s sights and sounds, by turns gently humorous and increasingly anxious, the tale follows Britton’s slightly misguided adventures into the terrain of sickness and delusion, and back again.

My Mothers Monologues Department of –E- Productions
This is a gripping reading of some of the most personal stuff ever put on paper by a human being.
Recess Una Aya Osato
A one-woman show created from the experience of a teacher in the NYC public schools. It confronts the state of today's public school system where struggles for power, criminalization of the youth and the effects of a suffocating bureaucracy are a daily reality.

Son of Man Lara Torgovnick and Anna Umansky
This play delves into the lives of twelve individuals as they wait for a train in a purgatory.

The Dysfunctional Guide to Home, Perfection, Martial Bliss, and Passionate Hot Rom Dysfunctional Theatre Company
This “How To” piece will use a blend of vintage and original writings to teach you how to be the perfect housewife (or househusband) - Dysfunctional style.

The Expatriates The Beggars Group
F. Scott, Zelda Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and Ernest Hemingway are placed into a devilish purgatory to face their lives all over again. Flappers, booze, and jazz are the guides to untold wealth and unimaginable excess leading this fast paced show barreling towards certain destruction.

The Giant’s Causeways Nora S. McLaughlin
A story about two boys growing up in Belfast, Ireland between 1969 and 1971 amidst the political struggles of that time and how their friendship is affected.

The Question House Breadbasket Productions
Why does everyone speak only in questions at Question House Research Consulting? Is it true that they'll be struck by the hand of God if they don't? Can Margaret keep the cops at bay when another assistant goes down?

The Surprise Martin Dockery
A comic monologue about a trip to Saigon to rescue a relationship with both my girlfriend, who can't decide if she wants children, and my father, who reveals he's got brand new twin Vietnamese children of his own.

Y Irene Lezos
Travels through the inner landscape of a delusional woman who believes she is Marilyn Monroe. Weaving truth with imagination -- and with the use of alter egos, drug-induced manic episodes, and especially an open heart, "Y" follows Marilyn Monroe as she works to solve her own death.

National Shows
Brainstorming Rory Raven, Providence, RI
Rory Raven Will Read Your Mind. Neither a psychic nor a magician, his knowledge of the inner workings of the human psyche allows him to read minds, bend spoons, and perform other remarkable feats.

End of the Trail EXIT Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Facing a possible Apocalypse, two old friends play a treacherous board game called "The End of the Trail." The object of the game? Don't die alone! A darkly comic examination of friendship and how little it helps.

Jihad for Vent and Dummy Coulter and Star Ventriloquists, San Francisco, CA
A deadly puppet skirmish that pulls your strings. Theatre, frivolity and horror collide.
Now, and at the Hour EXIT Theatre, San Francisco, CA
Join magician, Christian Cagigal as he weaves magic, mind reading, story telling and theatre into an intimate, interactive and altogether "slightly creepy" magical experience.

Oens Wilson Loria, Gulfport, FL
Bringing and mixing the past and the present together, Oens shows that "globalization" is not a recently coined word in today's vocabulary. Through music, mime and dance, Oens also enacts the eternal wish for a better world.

The Black Jew Dialogues Cambridge, MA
What’s so funny about two American minorities that have slavery, the KKK, and chicken livers in common? You’ll find out in this extraordinary two-actor play on the history and absurdity of prejudice and racism.

The Heffner Monologues John Hefner, Cabin John, Maryland
How do you make a name for yourself when someone else already has? That's the question that John Hefner (estranged cousin of a certain international icon) explores through painfully funny stories about love, loss, nudity, traffic court, and finding an identity in a world where "Hef" is a household name.

International Shows
Camouflage Camouflage Productions, Etobicoke, Ontario
This one-woman play explores the dangers of camouflaging the truth, especially from yourself. Humor, pathos, raucous, gut wrenching, you'll laugh, you'll cry. It's better than sex.

Coffee Dad, Chicken Mom, and the Fabulous Buddha Boy Mischief and Mayhem Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta
Clucking, chanting, and a lot of caffeine! Meet a family who are trying to figure out what it's all about, in very different ways. If they're lucky they may actually be able to live together, or better yet, with themselves. Who says home is where the heart is?

Freedom 85! Hi-D Theatre, Toronto, Ontario
When a clumsy waitress breaks a feisty 85 year old out of her retirement home, past and present collide. This two- woman multi-character comedy has it all: colorful townies, euchre, war stories, a Jamaican diner and loves lost and found.

How Does a Drug Deal Become a Decent 3rd Date? Green With Envy Productions, Toronto, Ontario
The story of a girl who is coming to grips with a dating life that is unraveling. Why is she attracting these guys? Could it be her? Or maybe dating isn't about perfecting the art of what doesn't work…

On Second Thought Wog Productions, Toronto, Ontario
Based on those times in life we get ourselves into and then question how we got there.
The Solitary Al-Khareef Theatre Troupe, Damascus, Syria
The a story of two men, the first is the prisoner and the other is the prison guard, who’s two lives are mostly not fair and full of broken dreams. But do they get to their dreams at the end?

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Readings Announced for 2008 TRU Voices New Musicals Series

As per a press release I received today...

Theater Resources Unlimited
Announces the
2008 TRU Voices New Musicals Series
Free readings of

Once Upon a Wind and So Happy I Could Scream!
December 8 and 15, 2008 at the Players Theatre

Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) is pleased to announce the winning selections of the 2008 TRU Voices New Musicals Series. In a series that is unique because it develops new producers as well as new musicals, two works were chosen from submissions by emerging or established producers, as well as writers. The works will be read on Mondays, December 8 and 15, 2008 at 7:30pm at the Players Theatre, located at 115 MacDougal Street, NYC.

The musicals chosen for the TRU Voices Series are: Once Upon a Wind, a musical about love, magic and lies by Tom Diggs and Jay D’Amico, produced by Sheila McDevitt; and So Happy I Could Scream!, a musical celebration of motherhood, with book by Judy Freed, music by Sari Miller, lyrics by Randi Wolfe and additional lyrics by Sari Miller, produced by Meredith Lucio/Wild Bird Productions.

Once Upon a Wind, with book and lyrics by Tom Diggs, music by Jay D'Amico, will be read on December 8, 2008 at 7:30pm, produced by Sheila McDevitt and directed by Jeremy Dobrish,

In war torn England, two teens attempt to make sense of their lives as they come of age through the lens of love, magic … and lies. Based on the Cottingley Fairy Hoax, Once Upon a Wind is the story of the two teenagers who faked fairy photos during World War One and briefly fooled a grieving nation. As a straight play titled Yorkshire Tales, it won The Aurand Harris Prize, was a Princess Grace finalist, and was the ATHE Playworks selection for 2007 before it received an Off-Off Broadway workshop produced by On the Leesh Productions at The Michael Weller Theatre in October 2007.

Tom Diggs (book and lyrics) has had his work performed at major regional theatres, including East/West Players, Intiman Theatre, The Seattle Rep, and Moving Arts (L.A.). His play, Harper Lee’s Husband, was a part of the 2005 Pittsburgh New Works Festival The Vital Theatre’s Vital Signs, and was a finalist for a Samuel French Award. Nu Shu, was part of the Kennedy Center’s New Works Festival in April 2006. The book for Once Upon a Wind won the Aurand Harris Award at NETC in 2006 and was developed at PlayWorks in July 2007. In the summer of 2007, The Kennedy Center and The National New Play Network commissioned Fair and Decent, which opened the 2007-2008 Luna Stage season in October. Mandala is currently being developed by The Lark and The Kennedy Center. Tom recently graduated from NYU’s Tisch of the Arts with an MFA in Dramatic Writing. He was named a Dramatist Guild Fellow for 2007-2008 and is currently a member of the BMI Lyricists Workshop.

Jay D’Amico (music) made an impact on the jazz scene with his CD Ponte Novello in 2001. He recently returned to the inspirations of Italy with his CD Tuscan Prelude. D’Amico’s unique style blends jazz and classical influences. Under the auspices of Art Podell of the New Christie Minstrels, D’Amico recorded a single which enjoyed near hit status. From 1984 through September 10, 2001, D’Amico performed as the Pianist-in-Residence at New York’s Windows on the World. In 1990, he released the solo recording, From the Top. He released Ponte Novello in 2001, which featured D’Amico’s original compositions along side his arrangements of arias by Puccini, Verdi and Bellini.

Jeremy Dobrish (director) - Recent Off Broadway: Inner Voices: Solo Songs (Zipper), Spain (MCC), Election Day (Second Stage). Regional: Barrington Stage, Goodspeed, Hangar, North Shore, NY Stage and Film, O’Neill, Village. Theatreworks USA: Curious George (writer/director), and Paul Revere. Festivals: Fringe, NYMF, SPF. Jeremy has served as an Artistic Associate at Second Stage, and was the Artistic Director of adobe theatre company for 13 years, for which he has written and/or directed over twenty plays. He also directed Hell Hole Honeys in the 2007 TRU Voices New Musicals Series.

Sheila McDevitt (producer) is the founder and co-Artistic Director of id Theater, a development based company dedicated to the playwright and making better theater…one play at a time. To date, id’s Seven Devils Playwrights Conference has produced over 70 staged and sit-down readings over 9 years. id’s NYC Sit In! gives playwrights in NYC a chance to hear their works in an East Village venue once a month. Sheila also co-produced for Quirk Productions for many years, a company dedicated to re-telling and adapting the mythic Greek story cycles. Sheila also acts and directs.

So Happy I Could Scream! will be read on December 15, 2008 at 7:30pm. Book by Judy Freed, music by Sari Miller, lyrics by Randi Wolfe and additional lyrics by Sari Miller, produced by Meredith Lucio, Wild Bird Productions. The show was developed at Theatre Building Chicago.

So Happy I Could Scream! is a musical revue celebrating the challenges and rewards of motherhood. Touching, humorous, and thought-provoking, it transports the audience to a bewildering world of love, relationships, discipline, gender roles, career paths, sex, family planning, and facing the empty nest. Featuring an upbeat mix of contemporary song styles, monologues, and scenes, So Happy I Could Scream! will appeal to anyone who is a mother – or has one. So Happy I Could Scream! began at a kitchen table in the Chicago suburbs and was developed at Theatre Building Chicago, where it was seen in the Monday Night Musicals series and at Stages 2007, a festival of new musicals-in-progress. It recently received a concert reading at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois.

Judy Freed (book) has seen her plays and musicals performed in the United Kingdom, New York, California, Massachusetts, Washington, and throughout the Midwest. Her writing has been recognized by the National Music Theater Conference and the American Alliance for Theatre & Education. Musicals include Sleepy Hollow (developed at the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theater Workshop and produced throughout the Midwest); Emma & Company (named a “theatrical highlight of 2001” by Back Stage); Me and Al, or How I Died in the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre (showcased at the International Festival of Musical Theatre); and Somebody Else’s Troubles (featuring the songs of Grammy-winning songwriter Steve Goodman). Judy is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Inc. and Theatre Building Chicago’s musical theater writers workshop.

Sari Miller (music, additional lyrics) graduated from Barnard College, where she received the Program in the Arts Award in Music and the Lefrak Prize for Creative Writing in Music. Her song Chalom (the Dream), co-written with lyricist Sara Cohen, was a runner-up in the World Category of the 2001 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Sari has worked as a musical director and performer for various children’s theater programs including New York Kids on Stage and Jewish Theater for Young Audiences. She is a member of Theatre Building Chicago’s musical theater writers workshop.

Randi Wolfe (lyrics) has been a member of Theatre Building Chicago’s musical theater writers workshop since 2004. A member of the Academy for New Musical Theatre in Los Angeles since 2006, she is currently serving on the ANMT Board of Directors. Equally important to her lyric-writing is her 30-year career working with children and parents. Having been a preschool teacher, day care center director, director of a family support center, and Associate Professor in Early Childhood Education, she relocated to Los Angeles in 2007 to work in workforce development in the early care and education industry. While her professional background lends insight to her lyrics, nothing has impacted her more profoundly than raising two children. Their love, patience, and inspiration have been at the center of her contribution to So Happy I Could Scream!

Meredith Lucio / Wild Bird Productions (producer) Producer of Best Musical in 2007 (Take Me America) and Best Musical (Commercial), Producer's Award for Excellence in 2008 (Opa!) at Midtown Theatre Festival. Writer of the Column about Producing Theatre in NYC.

For more information, visit

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Monday, November 24, 2008

League of Independent Theater Announces Formation, Issues Press Release

This is the official press release announcing the formation of the League of Independent Theater. See below.

Contact: John Clancy, (917) 539-3153

New advocacy group to promote Off-Off Broadway’s economic and artistic interests
First membership meeting Dec. 7, 11AM, Barrow Street Theater, 27 Barrow Street

A team of prominent independent theater artists and producers proudly announce the creation of The League of Independent Theater, Inc. (LIT), a membership-based advocacy group and business league representing New York’s City Off-Off Broadway community. LIT’s website is

The mission of LIT is to promote the economic and artistic interests of its members, ensuring that independent theater remains economically viable for its practitioners. The organization will advocate on behalf of the decades-old tradition of Off-Off Broadway theater.

Membership in LIT is open to any artist, company or technician working in theaters of 99 seats or less in New York City who can demonstrate participation in a minimum of three productions. Theater service organizations serving Off-Off Broadway are encouraged to apply.

Says LIT Executive Director John Clancy, an acclaimed director and Off-Off Broadway veteran who co-founded the New York International Fringe Festival: “I haven’t been as enthused and optimistic about an organization since the early days of the Fringe. Our members are entrepreneurs, business-savvy, and wildly creative. Our job is simply to harness that remarkable energy and effect real change in our territory.”

LIT’s priorities include:
1) Achieving substantive, meaningful changes to the Actors’ Equity Showcase Code to respond to the needs of the independent theater community.
2) Advocating for the establishment and preservation of Off-Off Broadway venues and rehearsal spaces, including lobbying for arts-friendly amendments to the building and tax codes and developing industry-enhancing relationships with real estate developers and interests.
3) Increasing funding from grant-giving organizations as well as supporting the campaigns of public officials who actively promote the independent theater community.

LIT is organized to qualify as a 501(c)(6) business league in order to engage in advocacy and lobbying for its members, without the lobbying limits applicable to 501(c)(3) organizations.

LIT’s Executive Director:
John Clancy, Executive Artistic Director, Clancy Productions

LIT’s board of directors includes:
Paul Bargetto, Director, East River Commedia
Martin Denton, Executive Director, The New York Theatre Experience, Inc.
Shay Gines, Executive Director, The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation
Michael Goldfried, Director
Robert Honeywell, Co-Artistic Director of Brick Theater
Leonard Jacobs, Theater Critic, New York Press
Abby Marcus, Managing Director, Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company
John Pinckard, Producer
Moira Stone, Actor
Erez Ziv, Co-Founder/Managing Director, Horse Trade Theater Group

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Light Posting Today

Going to be posting lightly today -- have a bunch of deadlines on my plate and about to run out for lunch, coffee, and then to see Family Guy Sings at Carnegie Hall. I'm going to be all about Quohog until this evening.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

From the Blogroll III

Edward David Miller's Adventures In and Out of the Mainstream Media has a report on Ned's trip to Nashville, including a porn shop and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Not that anyone would conflate those...

Chad M. Bauman's Arts Marketing is "Asking the Unpopular -- Is There Too Much Art? The first three graphs of this post, while disheartening, are certainly provocative and worthy of deeper discussion

The economic crisis is starting to trickle down to arts organizations all over the nation. Recent casualties of the crisis include Opera Pacific, Milwaukee Shakespeare Festival, and several Broadway shows. To adjust for the weakening economy, planned productions have been abandoned at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Washington National Opera, the New York City Opera and even at the seemingly untouchable Metropolitan Opera. Not to mention the St. Louis Museum of Art postponing its $125 million expansion or the Shakespeare Theatre missing its gala goal by $300,000.

The impact of the crisis will be felt in communities all around the country. Quite simply, the casualties listed above won’t be the last. Arts organizations will fail and close as contributed income dries up, and earned revenue weans. Although tragic for the artists connected to these organizations, the unpopular question that continues to emerge with my colleagues from around the nation is: are the closings of these organizations necessarily a bad thing?

Is there just too much art? Take for example an article written in the Washington Post on April 23, 2008 which cites a study by the Helen Hayes Organization that says in 2007, there were 402 more performances by theatre companies than the previous year but attendance was down by 36,000 patrons. From this report, it would seem that supply has significantly surpassed demand, and this isn’t surprising when you take into consideration the boom of new theaters in the Washington metropolitan area.

Americans for the Arts' Arts Blog reports that the U.S. Conference of Mayors Embraces the Arts in Their Ten-Point Plan.

Jonathan West's fiercely amusing Artsy Schmartsy takes a look at the nonprofit scene in Milwaukee through the lens of -- you guessed it -- the seriously tanking economy. And in another post, Jon sticks his nose where it doesn't belong and talks about the stupidity surrounding the Scott Eckern/Proposition 8 disaster as he admits he's hetero and white.

Robert Cashill's Between Productions reviews American Buffalo via Live Design magazine.

Butts in the Seats talks about a new residency opportunity for arts and culture managers in, of all places, Key West.

D.C. Theatre Scene has reviews with multiple bylines of multiple productions, including Grey Gardens, Dublin Carol, Frost/Nixon, All's Well That End's Well and Doubt.

Chris Caggino's Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals asks if Christine Ebersole is "Misinformed or Off Her Chump" for talking publicly about her belief in the eventuality of a one-world government and, to be more specific, the creation of a North American currency called the "amero." By the by, La Ebersole has been saying that 9/11 was a conspiracy for some time now. It's not new. But she is being a lot more public about it. I suppose that sells tickets, too.

Thomas Garvey's The Hub Review contains its customary suite of reviews, but his assessment-slash-think piece-slash-review of Lydia R. Diamond's Voyeurs de Venus is a must-read for anyone interested in theatre in Beantown.

Patrick Lee's Just Shows to Go You has four reviews: Streamers, Back Back Back, Catalpa and Vaudeville Man. All, somehow, for :-)

Ken Davenport's The Producer's Perspective waxes philosophical about the Broadway revival of American Buffalo, which is nifty for him as he's one of the producers of the Broadway revival of Speed-the-Plow. And then, in a strange turn, Davenport ponders roaches.

Michael Criscuolo's NYTheatreMike considers the non-existent stampede of American Buffalo ticket-buyers to the box office and does Leonard Jacobs a favor and plugs the living daylights out of his book.

Matt Freeman's On Theatre and Politics takes note of the recent podcast of the Leonard Jacobs Show that aired at on real estate and theatre and whether the tax code and the nonprofit deductibility rules should be altered when it comes to landlords, rent, charitable giving and real estate. A great read.

Garrett Eisler's The Playgoer notes the creation of a new blog called the Critic-O-Meter created by my colleague and friend Rob Kendt and some other blogger who doesn't have the decency to acknowledge when he betrays people.

Lauren Yarger's Reflections in the Light reviews Cirque du Soleil's Wintuk.

Praxis Theatre's Theatre Is Territory asks whether there is enough content about theatre about content about theatre about content about theatre about content about theatre. I think.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Horse Trade's Frigid New York Festival Needs Your Help

Does everyone know about the Frigid New York festival at Horse Trade Theater Group? If you know about it, or you've seen some of the work, or heard about some of the work, you might consider reading the note (see below) that I just received from managing director Erez Ziv, and taking action.

Dear Friends of Horse Trade and FRIGID New York,

Hello. I am Erez Ziv, Managing Director of the Horse Trade Theater Group.

I am writing to announce that in February 2009, Horse Trade and San Francisco’s EXIT Theatre will once again celebrate the end of winter with the return of FRIGID New York, a new global Indie Theater Festival that kicks off the annual North American Fringe Circuit. As you know FRIGID is a unique model which gives 100% of the box office income to the artists. This year I am asking you to materially contribute to this worthy endeavor through direct donations of cash and/or by contributions of your time, energy and spare rooms.

FRIGID Needs You!
Horse Trade, EXIT Theatre, and all of the hard working staff, artists, and volunteers of FRIGID New York contribute their labor and resources to underwrite the costs of producing the Festival.

As the Festival grows beyond all expectations, it requires year round management, but we cannot continue to go it alone. With 100% of box office revenue going the artist we are stretching our budget dollars as thin as they can go. We will have to cut back on events and services that have helped this festival get such a great reputation around the globe in such a short time. Your contribution would prevent that.

We know this is not the best of times to ask our friends for money but here we go anyway. Your gift of:

$25 would help pay for us to provide our artists with a wireless internet connection so they can easily market their show and arrange the next leg of their international tours while at our festival. This donation will give you a great warm feeling all winter.

$50 would help pay for a venue manager to take care of both the artists and the audience at each performance. This level of support, beyond a great warm feeling, will entitle you to a FRIGID winter hat.

$100 would help pay for a good bit of web advertizing on Time Out New York. This level of support will make you hot and entitle you to a limited run FRIGID bag.

$250 would help pay for print advertizing in The Village Voice. You will be steaming hot and might not even need your hat, but you will be able to carry it in your FRIGID bag as you come see shows with your 10 show pass.

$500 would help pay for one tech person for the entire run of the festival. We worry that you might melt, so we will make you an Ice King/Queen entitling you to special VIP treatment, a free pass for you and a friend to every show and a special invite to all our events.

In Kind Donations
If you can’t afford to write a check, don’t despair, you can give us your time and join our volunteer corps to help make the festival function as smoothly as it has in previous years.

And if you have an extra bedroom or just a couch, and can help us with housing some of our national and international visiting artists, you will be crowned an Ice King/Queen with all above listed benefits.

For all donations you will be invited to FRIGID New York’s opening weekend party @ UNDER St. Marks, where you can meet all this year’s artists and staff while making frequent trips to the open bar.

The festival’s producers are proud of our guiding principles to support self-producing artists in furthering the success of their work. We ask for your help as we continue to provide this opportunity for ingenuity to thrive in a festival that prides itself on freedom of expression and artistic determination. Your kind support for FRIGID New York will help secure a future for this unique festival and a truly vibrant theater community.

I ask you to join us today and make the 2009 FRIGID New York a grand success! Please support FRIGID New York today. You can donate online at:

Or send contributions to Horse Trade Theatre, 85 E. 4th Street, New York, NY 10003. Checks should be made payable to Fractured Atlas, with “In behalf of FRIGID New York” in the memo line.

We look forward to seeing you this winter.


Erez Ziv
FRIGID New York Festival

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Ford's Theatre in DC Announces Grand Reopening, February 2009

More news from Ford's Theatre, courtesy of PR goddess Liza Lorenz...


Grand Reopening Celebration on February 11;
George Lucas to Receive Lincoln Medal

Lincoln Bicentennial Commemoration on February 12

Ford’s Theatre Open House and Lincoln Birthday Celebration on February 16;
Launch of New Series Titled Living Lincoln

Timed Entry Tours of Theatre Begin February 17

Theatre To Reopen with The Heavens Are Hung in Black (World Premiere) and The Civil War;
Ford’s Theatre Museum To Reopen in Spring 2009

Renovations Include New Seats, Updated Staging Capabilities and Enhanced Accessibility

Washington, D.C.—Wayne R. Reynolds, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Ford’s Theatre Society, Paul R. Tetreault, Director of Ford’s Theatre Society, and Kym Elder, Superintendent of Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, announced today that Ford’s Theatre will reopen in February 2009 after an 18-month renovation. Ford’s Theatre will celebrate with one week of public and private events honoring Abraham Lincoln’s life and legacy. The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Campaign, a $50 million capital campaign to support the renovation of Ford’s Theatre and its museum as well as the building of the new Center for Education and Leadership, has raised $43 million to date.

“In February, Ford’s Theatre will reopen its door to once again inspire visitors by celebrating the life and legacy of President Lincoln,” Reynolds said. “This is the most extensive renovation of the site since 1968, and we are excited to offer visitors an enhanced experience that will educate them about Lincoln while letting them share in his love for the performing arts.”

“We are thrilled that the reopening of Ford’s Theatre will coincide with the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth,” Tetreault added. “In honor of this event, we will reopen the theatre with the world premiere of The Heavens Are Hung In Black, a play about Abraham Lincoln in 1863, one of the most crucial years of his presidency. This play, along with many special events, will provide a magnificent tribute to our greatest president.”

“Ford’s Theatre is in the midst of a major expansion project to enhance the visitor experience at this historic site, and we are immensely thankful to all of the donors who have supported our capital campaign,” said Rex W. Tillerson, Chairman of the Ford’s Theatre Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Campaign and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees. “In addition to renovating the theatre and the museum, we are expanding our education programming and preparing to build a new Center for Education and Leadership that will focus on the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. The reopening of the theatre is the beginning of an exciting new phase.”

“We are very excited about the 40-year partnership between the National Park Service and Ford’s Theatre Society, which exemplifies the type of partnerships NPS desires to have with its collaborators,” Elder said. “We are pleased with the progression of the renovations, and we are highly anticipating the reopening of the theatre and the museum as well as the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth.”

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Arts Advocacy Update LXVII

The content below is from Americans for the Arts' Cultural Policy Listserv, email blast of November 19, 2008:

Lawmaker plans bill on Web neutrality
Reuters, 10/14/2008
"A senior U.S. lawmaker plans to introduce a bill in January that would bar Internet providers like AT&T Inc from blocking Web content, setting up a renewed battle over so-called network neutrality. Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, believes a law is essential to prevent telephone and cable companies from discriminating against Internet content, even though regulators have taken actions to enforce free Web principles, a top Dorgan aide said on Thursday."
I wonder if there won't be a sub rosa rallying crying led by the Republicans against this. Just a thought.

Smithsonian talks admission fees in open meeting
Baltimore Examiner - AP, 11/17/2008
"Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra promised Monday to 'fight tooth and nail' against any effort to begin charging admission for the Smithsonian Institution museums, speaking at the first open meeting of its governing board in 162 years. . . . Smithsonian officials have struggled with how to tackle a $2.5 billion backlog on maintenance for its 19 museums, the National Zoo and numerous research centers. The museum complex relies on Congress to fund about 70 percent of its $1 billion annual budget, but lawmakers have pressed the Smithsonian to become more self-reliant."
Kind of amazing to think that we got through the Depression, World War II, the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, the 70s, Reaganomics, Iraq War I, Iraq War II, 9/11 and so forth and the Smithsonian was free. And won't be? As a nation, we are a mess. A total mess. And yet...I can see how it could be the time to charge an admission.

Denver Arts Week Is Huge For City's Economy
CBS4 Denver (CO), 11/16/2008
In Denver, "[a] new study on the economic impact of cultural attractions shows interest and money surrounding the arts has doubled in the past 10 years. In 1997, 7.9 million people attended cultural events around Denver. In 2007, that number leaped to more than 16 million people. When it comes to money spent, $823 million was spent on arts related activities in 1997. In 2007 it jumped to $1.6 billion."
I still don't understand why the Denver model hasn't been replicated all over the nation. Does Denver do a good enough job of promoting it?

Public art is big money for NYC, but economic impact questioned
Canadian press, 11/12/2008
New York City "has hosted two grand public art installations in the last three years: the saffron fabric 'Gates' exhibit in Central Park in 2005 and the recent 'Waterfalls' show near the shorelines of Manhattan and Brooklyn. In both cases, officials said the projects generated staggering amounts of money for New York. They said that 'The Gates' brought in a whopping US$254 million and four million visitors, and 'The Waterfalls' generated $69 million and attracted an estimated 1.4 million visitors. . . . Public art has become big business in New York in recent years. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called public art 'a signature of New York City' that inspires New Yorkers, helps bring in visitors, swells its coffers and burnishes the city's image as a world cultural destination."
But couldn't one also argue that by discussing this -- by highlighting the fact that these art-related events occurred -- the overall image of New York City is burnished as well. How does one measure that? Isn't that just about long-term branding?

Cigarette-tax arts fellowship information is online
Cleveland Plain Dealer (OH), 11/13/2008
"The diciest part of distributing Cuyahoga County's cigarette tax for the arts is about to start. Beginning in mid-February, individual artists will be able to apply for fellowships worth $20,000 each. The fellowship program, details of which were hammered out this week by two nonprofit organizations involved in creating it, is aimed at building a strong arts community in Northeast Ohio by helping individuals with their development as artists."
Gosh, those poor artists, actually having funding to apply for. Whatever shall they do?

Investment in art pays off for the Houston economy
Houston Chronicle, 11/15/2008
Writing after last week's National Arts Marketing Project Conference, Robert Lynch and Jonathan Gus describes the arts as an "economic powerhouse" generating a 54% return on investment for the city. "Nonprofit cultural organizations and their audiences in Houston alone generate $626 million annually and support more than 14,000 full-time equivalent jobs. These jobs and related audience expenditures return $33 million in local tax revenue and an additional nearly $37 million in state tax revenue. When you compare this to the city of Houston's $10 million public investment in the arts and the state's symbolic $3.9 million investment, the citizens of Houston are getting a fifty-four percent rate of return on their tax investment."
Great statistics -- really glad this story is out there. I hope it gets publicized.

Phila. arts and culture groups brace for cuts
Philadelphia Inquirer (PA), 11/19/2008
"It's been a depressing stretch for arts and cultural groups in Philadelphia. . . . . [E]veryone is reeling from Mayor Nutter's announcement that the national economic wreckage has hit the city hard and will result in major funding cuts."
Sad. Period. Nothing more to say.

Charitable foundations feel economic pinch
Philadelphia Inquirer (PA), 11/12/2008
"Although next year's commitments may be secure, if financial markets remain under pressure, a serious crunch could come in 2010. Foundation endowments are generally invested in a combination of stocks, bonds and cash."
It all depends on the rolling averages, or so I'm told. It was the same thing in 2003 and 2004 vis a vis the post 9/11 fiscal landscape in 2001.

Foundations Not Likely to Make Major Shifts in Causes They Support Because of the Bad Economy
Chronicle of Philanthropy, 11/12/2008
"Arts, environmental, and international charities can take solace in a report by the Foundation Center that suggests that foundations don’t drop their support for such causes even when an economic downturn turns the public’s attention to social-service groups. The center, a New York research organization, analyzed grants awarded by more than 1,000 foundations from 1999 to 2005 to groups that focus on education, health, arts, international affairs, and human services. The study found that the 2001-2003 recession did not have a disproportionate impact on foundation support for any of those causes, suggesting that, even in downturns, foundations do not make sudden shifts in their grant-making commitments."
Fascinating study. However, it also suggests that foundations also don't take on new causes, either.

Tough economy hits St. Louis arts scene
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), 11/16/2008
"Arts organizations in St. Louis say they are feeling the effects of the economic slump. But some research suggest that 'the arts' fortunes are not always linked to economy's. In six of the nation's last 11 recessions, donations to arts organizations increased, according a recent study by Giving USA Foundation/Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Melissa Brown, the center's associate director of research, thinks she knows why: Arts donors tend to be rich. In 2005, the wealthiest 3 percent of American families donated 52 percent of all gifts to the arts. . . . Another report, the Bank of America Study on High Net-Worth Philanthropy, shows $1 in every $10 donated by the rich goes to the arts."
Here's the salient quote:

"There have been bad times before, but the question on my desk is how to proceed in a time of such extreme volatility....There may be an unwillingness to take on new obligations. Every year, I always tell a new agency, you will have to make a very strong case for funding. This year I really mean it."

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New Article: My Interview with Alex Borstein of "Family Guy"

Here's a little secret: I worship Family Guy. It's been a staple of the tube-watching in this household (where the tube is far from the priority) for a few years now. And I wanted, more than anything, to write something about the upcoming Family Guy event, called Family Guy Sings, coming up at Carnegie Hall next week. Through the kind intervention of the event's publicist, Beth Sorrell of the Karpel Group, I got a phone call last weekend from Alex Borstein, who voices Lois (and various other characters) on the show in addition to being one of its writers. Borstein's a great and fascinating character herself, and kooky and swell and crazy and frenetic and a total joy.

Here, then, is the short squib I wrote up for New York Press on Alex.


Click on this link to buy tickets to go to Carnegie Hall and see the whole cast reading two! With a 40-piece orchestra!!

Here's a tease from my story:

“Nothing offends me,” claims Alex Borstein, who voices the role of Lois on Family Guy and will appear at Carnegie Hall on Nov. 24 and 25 with the show’s full cast—Seth Green, Mike Henry, Mila Kunis and show creator Seth MacFarlane—for a concert reading of two episodes, backed by a 40-piece orchestra.

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New Article: Yesterday's Booze; or, My Report on Malt Advocate’s 11th annual New York WhiskeyFest

Here's the tease:

From the balcony of the Broadway ballroom at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, surveying the dozens of whiskey purveyors assembling tasting tables for Malt Advocate’s 11th annual New York WhiskeyFest, things resembled any other trade show. There was eye-filling signage and, given the type of product soon to be consumed by several hundred people, a phalanx of don’t-mess-with-us security types lolling about. Plus there were fashion statements to drink in—not from the suited men, who outnumbered the women five to one, but the women, some gussied in corporate uniforms, some glossy-faced in glamour garb. Everyone—from distillery reps picking up awards from Malt Advocate editor/publisher John Hanswell to the peat-obsessed press corps milling around—was patiently waiting the moment when the tables could be swarmed and the tasting could begin.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

NY Innovative Theatre Awards Releases Off-Off-Broadway Venue Study

As per publicist extraordinaire Katie Rosin:

Groundbreaking Off-Off Broadway Venues Study

The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation presents a “Report on Off-Off-Broadway Performance Venues." The 5-year study evaluated where Off-Off-Broadway (OOB) productions are being performed and trends with regard to performance venues by neighborhood.

Some of the highlights:
Over 25% of OOB venues in both the West Village and Midtown area have either been demolished or repurposed into non-performance spaces in the last 5 years

43% of all OOB venues are located in the West Side Midtown area of Manhattan

There has been a sharp decline in the number of OOB productions presenting work in the Theatre District

The East Village, which only accounts for 14% of the overall OOB venues, is currently presenting 30% of the OOB productions

"The rate of the erosion of our stages is alarming. Over the last 5 years, we have lost 26% of the Off-Off-Broadway stages in the Midtown area. We have watched a steady decline in the number of productions that are taking place in the "theatre district." Even more disturbing is the fact that of the 30 Off-Off-Broadway houses in the Greenwich Village area, over 25% have already been lost and with the displacement of the theatres from the Archive Building, that percentage increases to 40%" said Shay Gines, Executive Director, New York Innovative Theatre Foundation.

"The research and information contained in this report not only substantiate the numbers needed to help effectively advocate for public policy change as it relates to small non-profit theatre in New York City, but it also creates a clear barometer of the passion and fiery commitment it takes to simply exist in the Off-Off-Broadway world."
--David M. Pincus, Chairman, Theater Task Force, Community Board 4

The document can be viewed online by going to

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"Perfect Crime" Finds the, Um, Perfect Audience: Smart People

Courtesy of my colleague, the clever and charming John Capo, here is a press release I received today for a special performance of Perfect Crime in which the entire audience will consist of Mensa members. There is a reason the producers of Wicked, The Little Mermaid and Stomp didn't think of this earlier. (Here, I'll give you a few seconds to ponder that...)

Perfect Crime, the complex Off Broadway psychological thriller, will perform for an audience of Mensa geniuses on Saturday, December 6, 2008. The event will feature a post-performance discussion with Edgar-nominated suspense author Alison Gaylin who will speak about the psychology of the criminal mind. Available for interview are President of Greater New York Mensa Natalie Krauser and author/panelist Alison Gaylin. For more information or to obtain press passes, please contact me directly.

The release follows.


Perfect Crime, the Off Broadway psychological thriller, will partner with Mensa, the high IQ society, for a special matinee performance on Saturday, December 6, 2008 that will feature an audience of Mensa geniuses who will attempt to solve the mystery behind the longest-running play in the history of New York theater. The event will also feature a post-show discussion with Alison Gaylin, Edgar-nominated author of Hide Your Eyes, You Kill Me and Heartless, who will speak about the psychology of the criminal mind.

“For 21 years, audiences have been fascinated by the secret revelations at the heart of Perfect Crime,” said producer Armand Hyatt. “Let’s see how long it takes a room full of geniuses to figure out Perfect Crime’s legendary ending.”

Non-Mensa members who want to flex their mental acumen can purchase $41 tickets for the special 2PM performance and post-show discussion by calling the box office at (212) 921-7862 or at (212) 307-4100. $26 student rush tickets are also available by calling or visiting the box office.

A secluded mansion. A would-be murderess. The perfect crime. Margaret Brent is an accomplished Connecticut psychiatrist—and potential cold-blooded killer. When her wealthy husband turns up dead, she gets caught in the middle of a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a deranged patient and the handsome but duplicitous investigator assigned to the case. Perfect Crime has played over 8,800 performances since opening on April 18, 1987. It has been featured in every major New York publication as well as in People magazine and on Entertainment Tonight and The Today Show.

Written by Warren Manzi and directed by Jeffrey Hyatt, the cast of Perfect Crime includes Catherine Russell, who has starred in the show since its first performance and played all but four of its performances, Michael Brian Dunn (Broadway’s The Life, Guys and Dolls, Big River, Sweeney Todd), Robert Emmet Lunney (Broadway’s Mauritius, Deuce, Dancing at Lughnasa) Patrick Robustelli, and Richard Shoberg (24 years as Tom Cudahy on ABC’s All My Children).

Greater New York Mensa, the partnering organization, is comprised of 2,150 members from all walks of life and all corners of the globe who now reside in the five boroughs of New York City and the surrounding counties Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam. Greater New York Mensa is the local chapter of Mensa International, a not for profit organization dedicated to identifying and fostering intelligence for the benefit of humanity. The local chapters of Mensa International serve to provide myriad stimulating intellectual and social environments for its members to congregate and fraternize.

Perfect Crime plays at The Snapple Theater Center, 210 West 50th Street at Broadway.

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