On Monday, April 26th The League of Independent Theater and the Innovative Theatre Foundation will co-sponsor The Community Forum on the Ohio Theatre. The event will begin at 6:30pm at the Ohio Theatre located at 66 Wooster Street in Soho, NY.
After two years of negotiation, two lease extensions, and a 29-year history as an indispensable pillar of the downtown theatre scene, the Ohio Theatre must close the doors at its Wooster Street space forever on August 31, 2010.
The April 26th event will reunite local elected officials and members of the independent theatre community in an open forum to discuss solutions to the real estate crises affecting small theaters and the progress and momentum that has been made over the past year – specifically with regard to the tax abatement proposal currently before the Community Boards. In addition, there will be a discussion as to what steps can be taken to secure the remaining venues within the sector and help locate a new home for the Ohio Theatre.
Members of the community are invited to attend and are strongly encouraged to share their ideas regarding these issues. A list of speakers and more details will be posted at http://www.SohoThinkTank.org as they become available. The event will be streamed live at http://www.nyitawards.com/live beginning at 6:30pm on April 26th.
Academy Award winning actress, Olympia Dukakis encourages community participation saying, "It is so important to protect the cultural capital of New York City. Institutions like the Ohio Theatre, which for 3 decades has served this community and has been the home for many artists, needs the support of the city and the community. We must work together to preserve the remaining spaces and help develop new ones."
The Community Forum on the Ohio Theatre is a follow up to the Public Forum on Small to Midsized Theatres that was hosted by Manhattan Community Boards 1-5 at the Players Club in February 2009. The lack and gradual loss of adequate, affordable performance space was a key theme of that event. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer challenged attendees to hold their elected officials to a higher standard and provide them with a road map of what is needed to keep small to midsized theaters and performing arts companies in NYC alive.
The closure of the Ohio is the most recent example of a distressing trend affecting small to midsized performing arts venues throughout New York City. According to a study conducted by the Innovative Theatre Foundation, in recent years Off-Off-Broadway (OOB) has seen over 25% of their theaters either torn down to make way for new developments, or repurposed into non-performance spaces. With a number of theaters currently facing the same prospect, the urgency to find a solution to this growing problem has intensified.
The Ohio Theatre was one of Soho’s pioneering performance spaces and is now one of the last remaining. For 29 years, the Ohio Theatre has embodied the living history of the neighborhood of Soho, continuing the spirit of community and cutting-edge artistic practice that once defined the area. This is where Tony Kushner produced his first play out of college, where Philip Seymour Hoffman made his professional acting debut, and where Eve Ensler performed Dicks in the Desert – a decade before writing The Vagina Monologues. Today, the Ohio Theatre remains an incubator and platform for New York’s most exciting and widely recognized companies, like New Georges, Clubbed Thumb, Target Margin, Ma-Yi, International WOW, to name but a few of the many artists who are collectively changing the cultural landscape of New York and beyond.
The League of Independent Theater is a not-for-profit membership, advocacy and business league for the independent theater community in New York City (http://www.litny.org).
The Innovative Theatre Foundation was created to bring recognition to the great work being done in New York City's Off-Off-Broadway, to honor its artistic heritage and to provide a meeting ground for this extensive community (http://www.nyitawards.com).