Tax Relief Effort Background 

David Pincus 

History of the Non-Profit Performing Arts Property Tax Relief Initiative

A.R.T./New York, The Innovative Theater Foundation, Institute for Culture in the Service of Community Sustainability and The League of Independent Theater are excited to inform you about a unique collaboration formed to support an initiative the Manhattan Community Boards proposed that would benefit the small to mid-sized non-profit performing arts community in New York City.

In February of 2009, Manhattan Community Boards 1-5 sponsored a Community Board Town Hall on the State of Small to Mid-Sized Theaters.  Over 300 individuals attended, representing a significant percentage of the independent theater sector in New York City.  At that event, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, challenged the crowd to come up with ideas to support the sector that our elected officials would then be held accountable to advocate for.

During the following two years, many members of the Manhattan Community Boards in conjunction with the above organizations, members of the independent theater community and City officials, rallied around a proposal that in June of 2010, was unanimously ratified by all 12 Manhattan Community Boards which would reduce or eliminate property tax assessments for those non-profit organizations that have an artistic mission and/or rent performance space to similar non-profit performing arts groups with artistic missions of their own.

Since then, the above-art support and art advocacy organizations have broadened their support of the initial proposal of the Community Boards to include ALL non-profit performing art organizations in New York City.  

The Future of this Proposal

At this point in time, this growing coalition is reaching out to the other boroughs of the City of New York to inform them of the existence of this proposal, and to engage their interest and to gain their personal advocacy in support of it.  In addition, the current proposal is being vetted by interested members of the real estate community, as we endeavor to craft a proposal that will not only benefit the non-profit performing art organizations, but the landlords who potentially could be involved in the administration of this proposed tax relief; and The City of New York which is rightfully concerned about the costs associated with the implementation of such a program.  The coalition is investigating the costs associated with initiating a lobbying effort to advocate on the proposalís behalf; and how to engage the entire sector in advocating for this potential legislationís realization on a political level.

Besides the broadening of this proposalís scope to include every non-profit performing arts organization in the City -- The most important next step in this process is to gather information.

The Survey:  Information Needed in Order to Craft the Proposal

Before any legislation can be devised and considered on a political level, certain questions need to be asked and answered by the entire sector. As such, by helping us complete the questions contained on this survey. Information about your organization helps the entire non-profit theater and performing arts sector successfully advocate for the survival and future health of our sector.

From the tiniest Off-Off-Broadway venue, to small opera and dance companies, to those larger theatrical and performing arts organizations that hold long term leases on their own performance venues, this collective advocacy for targeted tax relief for non-profit performing art organizations can help focus the attention of our elected officials on the often overlooked important contributions, both financial and artistic, we bring to the City of New York.  As over 80% of NYC performing artists vote in local and national elections (a far greater rate than the population at large), our sector quite possibly has a voice and a collective strength that has not been effectively used to date.

More importantly, the answers to this survey could possibly save your performing arts organization significant outlays in terms of your operational budgets.  For further information on this proposal, please send an email to David M. Pincus at and we will gladly answer any questions you have. Your participation is vitally important to this process, and we thank you in advance for participating.

Virginia Louloudes, A.R.T./New York
Shay Gines and Nick Micozzi, Innovative Theater Foundation
John Clancy and Paul Bargetto, League for Independent Theaters
Paul Nagle, Institute for Culture in the Service of Community Sustainability
David M. Pincus Chair, Theater Task Force, Manhattan Community Board 4


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