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$10 Million Gift at 59E59 Means Rent-Free Runs for Producing Companies

Companies who stage works at the NYC venue now won’t have to worry about rental costs.

NEW YORK CITY: 59E59 Theaters has announced that the Elysabeth Kleinhans Theatrical Foundation has gifted an additional $10 million to support 59E59 Theaters and its artistic programs. Effective this summer, the 30-plus productions that open annually at 59E59 will be able to use the company’s three performance spaces and equipment without incurring the weekly cost of rent.

“By eliminating rental fees for producing plays at our venue, the Foundation has shattered one of the many financial barriers to emerging companies presenting new works, opening our doors to diverse voices and innovative productions that might otherwise not be seen,” said 59E59 managing director Brian Beirne in a statement.

In celebration of 20 years presenting new work on the Upper East Side of the New York City, and in recognition of increased industry-wide economic challenges faced by theater makers, this new model will help sustain the cultural impacts of the daring and adventurous theatre companies who call 59E59 Theaters home, including resident companies Primary Stages, LAByrinth Theater Company, New Light Theater Project, No.11 Productions, and Happenstance Theater.

“This extraordinary act of generosity is not just a financial contribution,” said Val Day, 59E59’s artistic director, in a statement. “It’s a resounding vote of confidence in our theatre’s mission and a game-changer for the entire performing arts community. Now artistic merit, more than financial ability, will be the guiding force in bringing stories to life on our stage.”

This extends 59E59’s business model, which is funded almost entirely by the Kleinhans Foundation. For the past 20 years, the theatre has chosen 800-plus plays and musicals nurtured and supported through highly subsidized rental rates, as well as production, ticketing, front of house, marketing, and press support. Under that model, the Foundation underwrote the cost of visiting theatre companies performing at 59E59 Theaters by approximately $1.8 million per year. Under the new model, with increased annual funding from the Foundation, visiting companies will be free to focus entirely on theatremaking and take more artistic chances with lower financial burdens and risks, while continuing to collect the majority of the box office revenue. The new model has increased annual funding to $2.3 million.

“For small theatre companies trying to produce new plays in New York City, it’s the best news we could possibly get,” said Margarett Perry, artistic director of Twilight Theatre Company, in a statement. Added David Byrne, artistic director of London’s Royal Court, in a statement, “It’s a leading example of the visionary, generous thinking we all need right now.”

59E59 Theaters was established by the Elysabeth Kleinhans Theatrical Foundation in 2004 to grant professional space and expertise to nonprofit theatre companies premiering their work in New York City.

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