Nonprofit unit to merge with Renew Media

The Tribeca Film Institute, the nonprofit arm of the Tribeca Film Festival, will merge with Renew Media, a fellow nonprofit for the arts. New entity will retain the Tribeca Film Institute name.

“It’s harder and harder to make movies; this is a welcoming home for filmmakers and media artists, and I think we need that,” fest co-founder Jane Rosenthal said. “It’s harder and harder to get arts funding in the schools, and we’re going in and promoting arts education.”

The fest itself has experienced growing pains as it’s expanded, and both the 10-day fest and the institute are seeking permanent digs in which to cohabitate. Pier 40 has been bandied about as a possible future home.

TFI’s staff will number about 16 year round, doubling during the fest. The festival employs about 50 year round, with added seasonal staff of 200-plus volunteers, whose numbers balloon to more than 2,000 to handle the fest.

The seventh edition of the Tribeca Film Festival opens on April 23 and runs through May 4.

The decision to merge is expected to be formalized in early April, but the two boards have approved a memorandum authorizing the coupling. Boards will be co-chaired by Rosenthal and founding partner Robert De Niro, with Alberta Arthurs, former Renew chair, taking on vice chair duties. Renew’s exec director, Brian Newman, will shift into the role of chief exec at TFI.

Funding from TFI for artists and filmmakers will benefit youth and mentorship programs for underrepresented artists, curated documentary series, panels and workshops, and the 3-year-old Summer Arts Institute, a film-intensive program for youth.

The summer program is currently free for 20 people of high school age, but TFI plans to expand it into a larger, citywide undertaking.

Meanwhile, under a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, an upcoming project, Reframe, will digitize and make archives available to the public with the goal of helping unseen films find a broader audience.

TFI will bestow 40 or so grants ranging from $500 to $50,000 as well as in-kind donations to filmmakers and new-media artists. More than $1 million in cash is given out in fellowships or award money each year.

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