Monday, May 23, 2011

Save UNDER St. Marks

Contributed by Guest Blogger of the week, Heidi G. Grumelot.

Hey there I hope you’re having a lovely Monday. I thought I would write a bit about the indie theater scene from the Horse Trade perspective this week.  Many of the things we are thinking about right now, beyond the May explosion of activity in our spaces, are the issues of sustainability, audience building, artist development and collaboration, and community building. Obviously a big part of our company’s sustainability right now rests with the fate of our UNDER St Marks Theater. If you have not heard, we learned that our building was up for sale the first week of April.  Here is an update on all things USM.

We have experienced an amazing outpouring of support from our community of artists and the indie theater community this past month. On April 7th Roger Clark featured USM and the building sale on NY1.   At 6AM musicians, comedians, performance artists, storytellers, playwrights, actors, directors, burlesque dancers, members of improv teams and blog critics showed up to drink coffee, share their art open mic style, and support USM.  The entire Horse Trade family was there and the experience was magical…but that’s how UNDER St Marks usually feels. I have shared a few photos from the event below.   

After the NY1 event, we have had good talks with our landlord, who is also playwright and member of our community. At this point, we have signed a rolling 6 month lease so that we can continue to operate and book the space as we normally do, and he is open to working with us on the building sale so that we can work out purchasing our space. In the mean time, we have been crafting a game plan for raising the funds necessary to purchase the building.   Phase one is happening right now, we are looking for 1000 people to contribute $50, to raise $50,000 by July 4th. To contribute, go to our indiegogo site. The amount of money we are attempting to raise in this fundraising drive is not enough to buy the building, but it will be enough to launch a capital campaign that will allow us to do so. We will use these funds to draw up architectural plans, create legal documents, and put together the professional business and marketing packet we will need to attract larger funders. 

There are quite a few ideas about how to purchase and use the building, on the most basic level we would create a condo building and buy just our space.  A bigger game plan would include artist housing, a cafĂ© space, and renovation and expansion of the existing theater space. Ultimately, whatever amount of the space we retain, we want to continue to use it to support the indie theater community in the most economical and efficient way possible. We really want to thank you all for your support and helpful advice these past weeks.

Also see:
Help Thy Neighbor by Doug Strassler

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