Top 8 Stories of 2008 


Each year we do a wrap up of the top events and stories that affected Off-Off-Broadway. Here is our list of the most important happenings in the Indie world from 2008.

1. Off-Off-Broadway Turns 50 Years Old - In 1958, a retired dancer opened a small café on an obscure side street in Greenwich Village. In December of that year, on the small 8 x 8 foot stage of the Caffe Cino, the first Off-Off-Broadway play was performed. 50 years later OOB is one of the largest and most active arts communities in the country. This past year, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer issued a proclamation declaring April 28th, 2008 as Joe Cino Appreciation Day. A crowd of friends and colleagues including John Guare, Doric Wilson, Bob Heidi, Marshall Mason, and Bob Dahdah gathered to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of Off-Off-Broadway and the legacy of Joe Cino.

Read more about Joe Cino Appreciation Day in this story by Dave Edson.

Read more about Remembering Joe Cino by Robert Patrick

2. OOB Transfers - We all love Off-Off-Broadway and the freedom and ownership it offers us, but it is always exciting when we have a chance to share our work with a wider audience. 2008 saw a number of very successful OOB productions moving to Off-Broadway runs. Some of our favorites include: Beebo Brinker, The Play About the Naked Guy, Elizabeth Rex, God's Ear, Too Much Memory and after years of wildly successful performances [title of show] made the big leap to Broadway. Congratulations to everyone involved. It takes a tremendous amount of work, energy and love to follow a production through that process and we're proud of you.

3. Materials for the Arts Celebrates 30 Years - In 1978 when the NYC Parks Department sought a refrigerator to house animal medications a new organization was born. Materials for the Arts (MFTA) manages a system that accepts donations of unwanted, but usable items from both businesses and individuals. Instead of these materials going into a landfill, they are redistributed to artists and educational facilities that need them. Each year MFTA provides over 1 million pounds of materials valued at more than $7 million. From set pieces to props to office materials, the OOB artists that utilize MFTA save thousands of dollars. MFTA also cuts down on the overwhelming waste of our city by recycling perfectly good materials. Join us is wishing MFTA a very Happy Birthday!

4. Statistics About OOB- In 2008, the New York Innovative Theatre Foundation released 2 reports about the business of doing business Off-Off-Broadway. The first report, Statistical Analysis of Off-Off-Broadway Budgets, was released in April and examined how OOB producers spend their budgets. The second, Study of Off-Off-Broadway Performance Venues, which was released in November was a 5 year examination that tracked the use of OOB theatres. A study of the demographic makeup of the Off-Off-Broadway community is currently being analyzed and a report is due in February 2009. Other studies such as an audience survey and an economic impact study are next on the list.

5. TRU 15 Year Anniversary - For 15 years Theater Resources Unlimited has been providing a meeting ground for OOB producers and artists. Dedicated to fostering communication, promoting a spirit of cooperation and sharing resources this organization now boasts a membership of over 400 theatre professionals. TRU provides numerous services including: scholarships, fiscal conduit services, audition events, mentorship programs, industry panels, referrals and so much more. The brainchild of founder and President Bob Ost, TRU has been a genuine asset to our community.

6. HERE Arts Center Reopens - After several years of construction and redesign and a price tag of over 1 million dollars, HERE Arts Center officially reopened its doors to show off its swanky new space. Featuring an improved café and gallery along with two state-of-the-art performance spaces, the OOB venue is comfortable and cool. As their press release puts it "HERE is poised to continue and expand its role as a downtown haven for the finest emerging art."

Article in Time Out New York by Raven Snook.

7. Shuttered Spaces - OOB tends to weather economic hard times better than our counterparts. However in 2008 many of our spaces were hit hard by the "recession". It seems as though each day brings news of another space losing its lease. Collective Unconscious, The Michael Weller Theatre, The 2nd floor of the 78th Street Theatre Lab (although the 3rd floor is still up and running) and most recently and unexpectedly, the Zipper Factory were all forced to close their doors. Four OOB theatres in the Federal Archive Building, the Ohio Theatre and 13th Street Rep are all still in danger.

8. 2nd Indie Theatre Convocation - On July 12th, Martin Denton, Rochelle Denton and John Clancy hosted the 2nd Indie Theater Convocation at the Barrow Street Theatre. The packed house engaged in a discussion about the most important issues facing OOB artist and producers. It was a very invigorating and exciting event.

Read More about this event in this story by Doug Strassler.


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