NEW YORK CITY: IndieSpace and Indie Theater Fund have merged into one company, with the fund becoming a program of IndieSpace. The two companies have a lot in common: They serve the same community, are run by the same executive director, and share the same priorities and values. Merging the two organizations, the Indie board explained in a statement, will given them an expanded capacity to serve many more artists on an annual basis by taking duplicative administrative hours and dollars and putting them directly into programming. There will be a party featuring a “wedding” ceremony to celebrate the merger on June 28 at a location in Chelsea.
“As executive director and co-founder of both IndieSpace and the Indie Theater Fund,” said Randi Berry in a statement. “I am thrilled that our merger, years in the making, is finally official. The work of both organizations has had an incredible impact on this vitally important part of the theatre ecosystem, and this merger will greatly increase our capacity and allow us to serve exponentially more artists. Indie theatre will be central to the recovery of NYC, and IndieSpace intends to be there with the artists we serve, every step of the way.”
Indie Theater Fund, originally established as the LIT Fund, was inspired by an idea of Judith Malina and Brad Burgess as a new model for funding the indie theatre community, and was housed within the League of Independent Theater until it became its own organization in 2012. By contributing a nickel per ticket from their shows to a pot of money for funding, the indie theatre community set out to create a method of self-sustainability, and a way to rethink philanthropy and the process of grant-making. The Indie Theater Fund has since supported hundreds of small theatre companies and thousands of individual artists with radically transparent and equitable grants, community resources, and advocacy. The fund started by providing five $1,000 grants per year, and by 2021 had increased that number to 50 $1,000 grants. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it provided over $1.5 million (in collaboration with IndieSpace) in relief grants to artists, small companies, and independent venues. The fund also started a mental health program that has served over 200 artists and lead several coalition-based funding programs, including the Cultural Solidarity Fund, the AAPI Transportation Fund, and the DCLA City Artist Corps grants. In addition, the fund has provided hundreds of hours of professional development to individuals and small companies that cannot afford those services directly, focused on fundraising, budgeting, marketing, anti-racism, and anti-oppression trainings.
IndieSpace was established in 2016 to counteract the ongoing displacement of small theatres and to address systemic inequities in New York City real estate. IndieSpace’s role was to support independent venues facing a real estate transition, challenge, or opportunity, and help them create permanent solutions. Since its founding, IndieSpace has consulted with more than 70 venues making real estate decisions, including The Tank, Frigid NY, The Chain, the wild project, Wooster Group, and Classical Theater of Harlem; helped 18 organizations sign new leases; saved seven theatres from being closed or repurposed; created four real estate operation partnerships; walked one venue through the purchase of their new home; co-established a rehearsal space co-op in a 99-year lease; and, during COVID, supported over 50 venues in navigating their leases. IndieSpace also worked with Community Board 2 to negotiate a permanent space for the cultural community in a new development on Gansevoort Street, which it will co-operate with HERE, the New Ohio, and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.
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