City gives $1 mil in subsidy rebates to small orgs

Gotham small arts orgs will be the recipient of Broadway’s $1 million giveback to the city.

Just 12 blocks north of the World Trade Center site, the tiny Flea Theater was the site of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s press conference to announce the redeployment of city monies made available to the League of American Theaters & Producers.

Eleven Broadway shows in danger of closing this past winter participated in the city’s $2.5 million subsidy program, dubbed Spend Your Regards to Broadway. The majority of those productions, however, registered profitable weeks and as a result returned monies totaling $1 million. Those shows returning all ticket subsidies included “Chicago,” “Proof,” “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” and “Urinetown.” “Hedda Gabler” and “Les Miserables,” on the other hand, kept all coin received.

As for the $1 million giveback, league president Jed Bernstein joked, “It didn’t occur to me to keep the money. I thought we had to give it back.”

“It’s something that has never been done before in government,” Bloomberg said. “They gave it back.”

At the press conference, Bloomberg announced the beneficiaries of those returned funds. They include ART/New York, New York Foundation for the Arts, Arts Connection, Center for Arts Education, Young Audiences and Studio in the Schools.

Virginia Louloudes of the Alliance of Resident Theaters/New York said not-for-profit theaters in the city have lost $4.6 million in revenue since Sept. 11, with a projected $16 million loss in the next nine months. She called the $1 million from the city a “symbolic” gift.

“It is recognition that the not-for-profit theaters are a feeding ground … for Broadway,” Louloudes said.

Kate D. Levin, commissioner of the Dept. of Cultural Affairs, reported that corporate giving to small arts orgs was down 20% from a year ago.

As for Broadway’s current health, Bernstein reported B.O. was down just 7% from winter 2001. He also noted that advance ticket sales had begun to recover. Generally measured as tix bought four or more weeks before a performance, advances now are 33% of all ticket sales. Last fall, they represented only 15% of sales, compared to 50% last winter.

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