Friday, May 1, 2015

2015 Honorary Award Applications OPEN

In addition to the production categories, the IT Foundation presents three honorary awards every year at the annual ceremony. These Honorary Awards are presented to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the Off-Off-Broadway community and are selected each year by the Honorary Awards Committee.

Honorary Award Applications are available now online
Due Monday, June 1, 2015 @ 6PM

The Honorary Awards are:

  • The Artistic Achievement Award, presented to an individual who has made a significant artistic contribution to the Off-Off-Broadway community;
  • The Caffe Cino Fellowship Award, presented to an Off-Off-Broadway theatre company that consistently produces outstanding work. This award also includes a grant to be used toward an Off-Off-Broadway production.
  • The Ellen Stewart Award, presented to an individual or organization demonstrating a significant contribution to the Off-Off-Broadway community through service, support and leadership.

Complete an Honorary Award application TODAY

2014 Honorary Award Recipients:

DONT FORGET TO Submit your

Outstanding Stage Manager Applications
Due in July  2015
Help us recognize your Outstanding Stage Manager.
Read about our previous OSM Recipients

Complete an OSM application TODAY!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2015 Founder's Award

Contributed by Nick Micozzi, Shay Gines & Jason Bowcutt


As you all know, we just finished up our 10th anniversary season. It has been a crazy, but entirely enriching decade. We want to thank all of you who have been a part of this organization. We have watched it grow from an impossible idea to an organization that is that has nearly 60,000 members. And so as we celebrate our first 10 years, we are also looking forward to the next 10 years.

At the Innovative Theatre Foundation, we are all about honoring and recognizing people who have made a big difference to the Indie Theatre Community and recently we had the opportunity to continue a tradition that we started in our first year. We have a very special award called the Founders Award that is given to individuals that the Foundation’s Founders (
Jason, Shay, and Nick) feel have made an extraordinary contribution to the organization. It is not given every year. It is rare, but very meaningful to us.

In our first year, it was presented to Paul Adams, who was a major inspiration and provided some important infrastructure support during our formative years. In our fifth year, it was presented to Akia Squiteri who is a beautiful force within our organization and has given it her heart and soul.

Now in our tenth year we are so excited to recognize someone whose generosity and vision is helping to ensure that our organization will be around for another ten years and beyond.
For several years, there has been a gentleman who has been a huge support to the Innovative Theatre Foundation. In fact, since the 1960’s he has been quietly supporting independent artists, Off-Off-Broadway, the avant garde; giving these artists and companies funding at crucial moments in their development. He has even written a book called the Avant Guardian: A Theatre Foundations Director’s 25 Years Off-Broadway about his experiences in theatre and supporting new, unusual works and experimental ideas.

We were honored to present the Founders Award to a “Fucking Legend” (if you have the chance, ask him about the story behind that moniker), Mr. Donn Russell.

Donn Russell, A Fucking Legend
Photos by Marc Goldberg

We are truly grateful that he has decided to invest in the Innovative Theatre Foundation and is entrusting us to help further his mission.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

IT Foundation Presents Founders Award & Receives Major Funding

New York, NY - At a special event on Monday, January 12, 2015, The Innovative Theatre Foundation (IT Foundation), the organization dedicated to celebrating Off-Off-Broadway, announced that they are receiving a major endowment of $200,000 from philanthropist Donn Russell.

Donn Russell receives the Founder's Award
Photos by Marc Goldberg
Over the last half century, Donn Russell has dedicated himself to nurturing the performing arts in lower Manhattan and elsewhere with donations and grants mainly for non-traditional theater endeavors. First as a co-founder and director of the Peg Santvoord Foundation beginning in 1965, which donated seminal aid to a number of the talented individuals and groups who are well known in Off and Off-Off-Broadway circles today. On his own he has endeavored to seek out and provide support to the most gifted experimental innovators in the field. His book, AVANT-GUARDIAN: 1965-1990: A Theater Foundation Director’s 25 Years Off Broadway, attests to it.

“Since today’s protagonists themselves have embraced such far-reaching  technical advances that allow for amazing presentations undreamed of earlier, I encourage them by funding an organization such as the Innovative Theatre Foundation, that is then capable of granting awards- and recognition -to a far broader range of performance-related categories than ever before,” said Russell.

Through the New York Innovative Theatre Awards, the IT Foundation brings recognition to the amazing work being done Off-Off-Broadway. Over the past ten years, the IT Awards has honored over 1,800 individual artists, over 500 productions, and 420 theatre companies.

“We are truly honored that Donn has decided to invest in the Innovative Theatre Foundation and is entrusting us to help further his mission of supporting Indie Theatre,” said Co-Executive Director, Shay Gines.

As a part of the evening, Executive Directors Gines and Nick Micozzi presented Russell with the Founders Award, which is given to individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to the Foundation. “This is a special award that has previously been presented only in our first year and our fifth year and now in celebration of our tenth year we are excited to recognize someone whose generosity and vision is helping to ensure that our organization will be around for another 10 years and beyond,” said Micozzi.

While specifics on how this money will be spent have not yet been made public, the Foundation has confirmed that a portion of the funding will be used for organizational infrastructure and a portion will be passed onto the artists and companies working Off-Off-Broadway. “We have lots of big surprises planned for the next few years,” said Gines.


The Innovative Theatre Foundation is a not-for-profit organization recognizing the great work of New York City's Off-Off-Broadway, honoring its artistic heritage, and providing a meeting ground for this extensive and richly varied community. The organization advocates for Off-Off-Broadway and recognizes the unique and essential role it plays in contributing to American and global culture. They believe that publicly recognizing excellence in Off-Off-Broadway will expand audience awareness and foster greater appreciation of the New York 
theatre experience.

Sponsors: Theatre Development Fund’s Costume Collection, Kampfire Films PR and United Stages

For More Information, press pack, photos, EPK of previous Awards Show, please contact Press Agent: Katie Rosin

Monday, December 29, 2014

What has been the biggest change that you’ve noticed in the OOB community over the last 10 years?

As we wrap up our 10 year anniversary, we asked a few of our friends about their fondest memories of the Innovative Theatre Foundation and the IT Awards.

Blake Lawrence: There has been a tremendous growth in the sense of pride, the variety of the work and a real coming together within the community. When I first moved to NYC and worked OOB everyone was involved in a show OOB but you only went to see other shows if you knew someone. Many more shows were “one-offs” instead of created by companies. The IT Awards helped to acknowledge the tremendous talent that existed OOB and the work of so many companies. It inspired and encouraged younger artists to start their own companies and created a true sense of community and support that was desperately needed.

Daniel Talbott: I think it's just the sheer number of fantastic companies that keep popping up and are out there, and the visibility of their work, which is wonderful.

Desmond Dutcher:
The amazing connections and cross-pollination that have occurred (on the positive side).  The sadly rising cost of rent for venues (on the down side).

I’m sure that I’m not the only one to give this answer, but reasonable spaces to perform work. Venues close their doors every year, and sadly there only seem to be a few “classic” OOBR venues left in NYC.

Jason Bowcutt:
The community has become so strong and proud in self identifying. I remember when we started there was such a dismissive attitude towards Off-Off-Broadway by so many people in the New York Theatre community, that has truly changed. I think people value the freedom to create that OOB offers. I have always said, and I still believe, that OOB is the only place in New York where you can still put yourself completely out on a limb and risk failure without compromising yourself to a bottom line. It is in that place of risk where some extraordinary art can flourish.

Kathleen Warnock: It’s not that it’s getting too big…but that because there are so many more people doing so many different kinds of work, I feel as though sometimes you don’t hear about something until it’s over. That’s for 2 reasons: you can’t know everyone in the scene, and the workshop contract is obsolete (you don’t hear about a show until it’s started selling out and word of mouth has spread and then…poof their can’t extend).

Stephanie Cox-Williams: It seems a lot bigger with a lot more productions than I was ever aware of.

Mariah MacCarthy: One of the biggest changes I've noticed in the OOB Community over the 7 years I've been in New York has been the way we promote and support shows. Each show has its own hashtag now, and if you go to a friend's show and enjoy it, it's becoming more and more of a custom to write about it on Facebook, Twitter, and sometimes Tumblr - or to Instagram a picture of your program when you take your seat. I also see "world-building" becoming more and more of a common marketing tactic (Flux are the grandmaster mack daddies of this), with manufactured newspaper articles, videos, pages from storybooks, etc that continue to tell the story of the play offstage - which you could also call "transmedia."

Shay Gines:
I’ve seen a greater sense of community and collaboration. It is not a bunch of companies working independently from one another, but a community of artists that work together and support one another. I think this change is due in some part to organizations like the Indie Theatre Now, LIT, TRU and the Innovative Theatre Foundation. Also Facebook and online sites like Theasy, NY Theatre Review, Off-Off-Online that are dedicated to the community and help to spread the word about the artists and work that is happening here.

Christopher Borg:
The biggest change that I have noticed is that increasingly OOB and indie artists have realized the importance and impact that their art can make on the community as a whole.  I get the feeling that people understand that they CAN take their art seriously, even in a small venue.  I believe that audiences and critics have picked up on that and taken more notice of this vast and imaginative community.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What is the craziest thing you remember from the IT Awards?

As we wrap up our 10 year anniversary, we asked a few of our friends about their fondest memories of the Innovative Theatre Foundation and the IT Awards.

Stephanie Cox-Williams: The Brick's acceptance/performance upon receiving the Caffé Cino.

Jeff Riebe: It would be unethical to say. ;)

Desmond Dutcher: Interviewing The Blue Man Group back stage.

Blake Lawrence: The week before that first awards show. We really didn’t know what to expect! My crazy memories are mostly about directing the ceremony - presenters going missing right before their entrances, presenting the wrong award, people speaking entirely too long, all the fun stuff of a live show!

Daniel Talbott: I don't know about the craziest but I really love all the folks who have received the Artistic Achievement awards and their dedication videos and speeches always really inspire me. Boring answer I know, and I also remember a guy accidentally pissing all over my shoes in the guys' room the year RPR was the Cino recipient. I was so nervous about having to talk that I didn't even realize it was happening and he was so drunk already he didn't either. We cracked up about it though and I felt like a ten year old again, and it made me a ton less nervous, which rocked. :)

Ellen Reilly: Being hugged by Ben Vereen backstage! I never saw it coming, he was just hugging everyone!

Jason Bowcutt: The Frisbee moment. An audience of 600+ being encouraged by one of the founders of Blue Man Group to reach into their gift bags, find the Frisbee and "do whatever comes to mind." Of course it was followed by Frisbees filling the entire theatre at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Christopher Borg: CERTAINLY, the craziest moment was when Bill Irwin encouraged the audience at the award ceremony to take the white frisbees out of the gift bags that everyone had been given when they entered and throw them! There was a huge WAVE of white frisbees in the air and hurtling toward the stage- I've never seen anything like that.  A little scary and a LOT hilarious!

Kathleen Warnock: I loved it when Lisa Kron showed us the container catalog she liked to look at. And, of course, the Frisbees. And this year, as the host kept taking off his clothes!

Shay Gines:
Last year the ceremony was running ahead of schedule (no, that is not the crazy part). Stephen Schwartz was presenting our final two awards and he was running a little late. Our host, Harrison Greenbaum was asked to go onstage and “stretch” while we waited for Mr. Schwartz to arrive. Meanwhile we were preparing to enact our contingency plan, which is Nick, Jason and I presenting the award. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more stressed. We had the script in-hand and were literally on the verge of walking onstage when Mr. Schwartz walked through the doors.

Akia: What people don’t see after the show.  Nick, myself, our Stage managers and interns usually are up for about 22 hours on Awards Show Day.  By the end of the day we have loaded and unloaded the truck 5 to 8 times, by the time we get to our storage unit, we’ve been up an entire day and usually on 2 or 3 hours of sleep the night before.  We have some outrageously silly moments, and it’s inevitable that I’ll have an exhausted meltdown which ends with all of us in unstoppable laughter on the floor (Literally, tears from laughing so hard, on the floor rolling).

The ritual is then diner breakfast and getting home around 4am.  Sometimes we’ve had to drop people off at the airport before going home. It’s rough, but there are some magic moments of theatre bonding that no one else gets to see.

Monday, December 22, 2014

What is the most iconic or meaningful moment that you remember from the IT Awards?

As we wrap up our 10 year anniversary, we asked a few of our friends about their fondest memories of the Innovative Theatre Foundation and the IT Awards.

Akia: Oh man! So So many.  Our opening number from the first ever ceremony, with Susan Blackwell telling Marian Seldes to "rock out with her cock out…"  The Blue Man Group on our 5th Anniversary opening the show and then debuting a premiere of a new piece of material. Then there was the infamous “Frisbee” moment during outstanding ensemble presentation. For a lot of reasons, I think year 5 stands out as this amazing landmark year to me. There was also a fantastic moment with Ben Vereen getting a NYITA hat from a volunteer who just wasn’t sure if she should be giving free stuff away.

Jeff Riebe:
The very first awards ceremony. I recall having a sport coat made just for the occasion. Having been involved with the Honorary Awards Committee opened my eyes to the breadth and influence of the Off-Off-Broadway theatre community at its core.

Christopher Borg: Well, I have to say that it was the moment that I first heard my name announced as a recipient! I had been nominated before and didn't expect to actually take home the award for Outstanding Ensemble with my fellow creators and that moment was simply overwhelmingly positive and wonderful.  There is nothing like that.

Daniel Talbott: This is such a tough question cause there are a lot but I really love Indie Theater Now, and also the passing of Doric Wilson really hit me hard and has always stuck out to me. Just knowing that such a truly individual artist like Doric from a different Village and time and place was no longer out there fighting the great fight in the same way or pounding the pavement - it made it feel like our connection with the extraordinary past of NY theater was getting thinner.

Desmond Dutcher: Bill Irwin telling the audience to throw their Frisbee in the air towards the stage.

Blake Lawrence:
The first awards ceremony was just incredible. Going from that early morning brainstorming session to sitting in a theatre with several hundred artists cheering on themselves and each other, it was just an incredible feeling. Something unique and magical was truly born that night and everyone in the room knew it and celebrated it.

Jason Bowcutt: Very hard to choose just I won't. Doric Wilson receiving the Artistic Achievement Award was a moment I will forever cherish, being able to recognize Ellen Stewart with the Stewardship Award blew my mind, and being backstage with Shay, Nick and Akia at this year's ceremony as we looked at one another in astonishment and having reached our 10th annual ceremony. 

Kathleen Warnock: So many! Of course, when Doric Wilson accepted his award, that one really got me. And one that was incredibly glorious was when Bill Irwin got everyone to throw their Frisbees. And I loved it, of course, when all five of the Five Lesbian Brothers accepted their award…for many and varied reasons.

Stephanie Cox-Williams: When I was able to meet and talk to Landford Wilson.  Not really a part of the show, but that was really meaningful to me.

Shay Gines: There are so many snapshots in my mind of moments that where meaningful to me. The first year was so indelible because we were in untested waters and had no idea what to expect. There was a moment at the first Nominee Announcement in 2005 when I swear I wasn’t breathing and my heart was not beating as we opened the doors and I watched the place fill with artists. At the time I didn’t know most of them and they didn’t know each other. At the first ceremony I was still in my overalls when we opened the house and when they called places, I was nowhere near being ready. The stage manager took pity on me and decided to hold for 10 minutes to allow me time to put on my dress. Over the years there have been simply too many astonishing moments onstage, backstage, behind the scenes I could not capture them all: Tom O’Horgan presenting the Stewardship Award to Ellen Stewart; watching the dress rehearsal for APAC’s Cino Award presentation; having the insane opportunity to meet so many of my theatrical icons; being the first person to congratulate some of the most profound artists I’ve had the good fortune to meet; talking backstage with Magie Dominick about the CaffĂ© Cino; carrying Olympia Dukakis’ purse; hugging Heather Cunningham after she received her award; watching Jolie Garrett (one of our award handlers) absolutely refuse to hurry Ben Vereen off stage (It was hysterical. He was onstage and it was like watching a pitcher shake off signals from the catcher. The Stage Manger kept getting more-and-more animated and Jolie was almost imperceptibly but decidedly shaking his head "no."); having Edward Albee tell me that we’ve built something important. One of my favorite things though is walking around the audience before the ceremony and greeting our guests and knowing most of them and watching this community being so supportive of one another. It makes me cry every time I think of it. Seriously, I’m in tears right now.