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Arts Access Fund

JLGreene Arts Access Fund in The New York Community Trust

The Foundation and The New York Community Trust began a unique partnership in 2019 to improve access to the performing arts in New York City by providing free and discounted theater tickets to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them. Twelve New York theaters that work closely with local communities to expand audiences were identified, and subsequently funded. In the successful first year, the partnership brought a total of 120,000 new people to the theaters. 

Then the pandemic hit. While the goals of the partnership – to democratize the theater-going experience – stayed the focus, new methods needed to be employed. Instead of bringing the people to the theater, the Arts Access Fund helped theaters change course, to bring theater to the people. Grant restrictions were modified to help theaters pivot to virtual programming as their doors shuttered. Through free digital performances and engagements, community partnerships, and activation of lobbies and outdoor spaces, theaters reached new communities in fresh ways.

For example, The Apollo Theater broadcast a performance on HBO; St. Ann’s Warehouse, held an outdoor rooftop concert series; and Pregones Theater shared its programming on BronxNet TV. New audiences reached during the pandemic surpassed in-person attendance—and expectations.

 The program also will help theaters create sustainable programs to expand their audiences for the long term.

Learn more about brand new and exciting programming from the Arts Access theaters:  Atlantic Theater Company  Playwrights Horizons, Billie Holiday Theatre, Classical Theatre of Harlem, New York City Center, Playwrights Horizons Roundabout Theater, Second Stage Theater, Signature Theatre, and Theater for a New Audience.


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