NEW YORK CITY: The Incubator Arts Project, nestled in the heart of New York City’s East Village, recently sent out an announcement about its July 1 closure. But instead of lamenting the lack of funding which caused the venue to shut its doors, the space’s five curators urged readers to focus on what had been learned and accomplished in the theatre’s not-quite-decade-long history.(It began when Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theatre first birthed the Incubator in 2005; when the Ontological announced its ending in 2010, the Incubator was rechristened the Incubator Arts Project.) “The conversation we want to have is what we now know,” the curators wrote. “Let’s not forget all that we learned along the way: the artists we fueled, the conversations we sparked, the history we honored, the accolades the work received, the grills we overflowed and beers we drank, the companies founded, the companies shattered, the great VIP equalizer (our crappy folding chairs), the electric ghosts we wrangled, the honesty we encouraged, that charming AC unit, the riff-raff we kicked out of the yard, the old-as-hell gear we kept running by some magic, the lure of inventive catwalk design, ever creative column use, the artistic freedom and the comps with a wink.”
In a recent conversation, producing director and curator Samara Naeymi noted how similarly sized theatres located in the city’s boroughs, which have embedded community support, have been able to survive. “We were a part of the Richard Foreman history, but in the East Village it became increasingly difficult to leverage that community support and history, because there are already so many theatres,” she said. The Incubator’s annual barbeque, held in the middle of August, often featured a “who’s-who” (and sometimes a “who cares”) of up-and-comers. While the established theatre gentry summered out of town (or more likely residency-hopped), kids with cool haircuts, and sometimes no haircuts, took over the theatre’s backyard space, jabbering away with hot dogs in hand and even hotter dance moves on the floor. “That will be missed,” Naeymi said. “Like any theatre experience, it had to end. We decided it was time to go, because we weren’t serving our community in the way we wanted and we didn’t have the resources to reinvent the wheel.” At press time, a ballet company was said to be moving into the space, but the announcement letter made no official mention of that—instead the letter looked forward to the next bright spaces to dot the NYC landscape and thanked artists and administrators who passed through the columned space. “A final huge unending thank you to Richard Foreman,” the letter concluded, “who had the bright idea to leave the kids alone in the room.” The kids will be missed.
To read the full text of the Incubator’s farewell letter, go to www.incubatorarts.org/letter.html.