Who Are We? We Get a Little Closer to Finding Out 

Doug Strassler 

The Innovative Theatre Foundation has just released a new report that examines the demographics of the artists working Off-Off-Broadway (OOB).  This is the third study in a series of five designed to capture statistical information about the diverse community that comprises Off-Off-Broadway.  Among the first known publicly available data focused specifically on this sector, some of its highlights include:
  • 85% of the OOB population holds a college degree. This is 58% higher than the national average.
  • 86% voted in the 2004 presidential election. This is 22% higher than the national average of 64%.
  • 68% of respondents are age 21-40
  • 53% of respondents are female
  • Income level of Off-Off-Broadway artists is near the national average, and slightly below the NY state average
  • 91% of respondents live in New York City
  • 10% of respondents reported making their living exclusively from their work in the theatre
  • 48% of the respondents currently belong to at least one theatrical union
Not only do the findings provide an understanding of who the people are that make up the OOB world, it also shows the role this community plays in NYC’s political and cultural environment. This can be critical in development, marketing, and advocating for support from civic leaders and funding organizations. “Examining the demographics of this community allows us to identify our weaknesses and strengths, which in turn provides us an opportunity to address those weaknesses and capitalize on our strengths” said Shay Gines, Executive Director of the Innovative Theatre Foundation.

Shortly after its release the study has already shown impact as far as Los Angeles. Colin Mitchell, writing for Bitter Lemons, reflected on the similarities of the OOB community and independent theatre artists in L.A. and considered what this type of research could do for his community.  Perhaps seeing a clearer picture of the community, he says "might allow us to re-focus our audience building, our marketing and even the type of theatre we make."

"Not knowing who we are has long been an obstacle in the maturation of the independent theater community," said Jesse Cameron Alick, Artistic Director of Subjective Theatre Company.  "This detailed, informative study should be mandatory reading for everyone working in the OOB world.”

The study reveals that the OOB community is highly educated, active and engaged. As Christopher Arnott of the New Haven Advocate notes “those who labor in the experimental mines of New York theater, blocks and blocks away from the … Great White Way, tend to be better educated, more civically minded, younger and better paid than all those age-old starving-artist stereotypes would have you believe.”

A presentation of the findings along with a question and answer session is scheduled for January 31st  at  7pm at The Players Theater Loft (115 MacDougal Street) and live-streamed at www.nyitawards.com/live.



Who is the Los Angeles Theatre Community? by Colin Mitchell, Bitter Lemons 1/18/2010
Off Off is the New On by Christopher Arnott, New Haven Advocate 1/14/2010
Innovative Theatre Foundation Releases Results of Off-Off-Broadway Demographics Study by Dan Balcalzo, TheaterMania 1/12/2010
Off-Off-Broadway Demographics Report Released, Clyde Fitch Report 1/12/2010
Countries for Old Men (and Women) by J. Holtham, 99 Seats 1/14/2010
The Indie Actor by Tom Loughlin, A Poor Player, 2/14/2010


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