Advocacy Updates
Monday, March 28, 2016 12:00 AM

#NYCInspires: A.R.T./New York's City Council Testimony

The following is A.R.T./New York's testimony to the New York City Council, delivered by Director of Programs Ann Marie Lonsdale, on March 23rd, 2016.

Good afternoon. My name is Ann Marie Lonsdale and I am the Director of Programs for the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York) the leading service and advocacy organization representing 370 nonprofit theatre companies and professional affiliates in New York City.

I want to thank Chairperson Van Bramer and the Committee on Cultural Affairs for allowing me to testify before you today.

A.R.T./New York supports the #NYCInspires campaign and respectfully asks the City Council for a $40 million increase in funding to the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs expense budget in Fiscal Year 2017. Under the Leadership of Commissioner Finkelpearl, the DCLA has embarked on several ambitious initiatives that have enabled the agency to identify dozens of community-based, artist-driven organizations that are eligible for DCLA funding, and the agency will need additional funding to support this broader cultural eco-system, which will be made up of both current grantees and first-time awardees.

At A.R.T./New York we think a lot about this eco-system because more than 75% of our membership consists of small organizations with annual operating budgets below $500,000. These companies represent the most culturally diverse section of our membership. Though their budgets are small, their ambitions are not—these companies are creating boundary-breaking work that impact the face of the American Theatre and serve hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers annually, in all five boroughs. Though their operating budgets are modest, these companies’ artists are using theatre to heal the wounds of refugees from Syria; to empower young women and girls through writing and storytelling workshops; to expand the canon of Latino Theatre; to tell the stories of immigrants in Jackson Heights; to bring professional theatre to Staten Island; to foster connections between young people and their elders; to invite international artists to New York City to create dialogue; to increase visibility for Asian-American playwrights and performers. These are but a few examples of the incredible work that is undertaken every day by New York City’s nonprofit theatres.

Our member companies are deeply grounded in their communities, a characteristic that has not only helped them to survive, but thrive. These companies provide jobs and benefits to artists and arts administrators, education and services to their communities, and astoundingly creative, boundary pushing, and exciting theatre to the residents of this city.

But at A.R.T./New York, we continue to ask ourselves how long these artist-led companies can survive without additional support to create programming and pay living wages to their artists. Our members face financial challenges, like the rising cost of rehearsal and theatre space, with ongoing resourcefulness and creativity, but filling these budget gaps by raising ticket prices will alienate the very audiences they seek to serve.

A.R.T./New York is grateful to the City Council, the Manhattan Borough President and the Administration for their support of our organization, particularly our new Theatre construction project on West 53rd Street, and the City’s support of so many of our member companies.

We look forward to our ongoing work with the City to ensure that the nonprofit theatre community continues to inspire future generations. That is why we are here today to strongly voice our wholehearted support for a $40 million increase to the DCLA budget, which will go a long way towards helping small theatres thrive in the New York arts ecosystem. Equally important, it will provide valuable funding to the many artist-led, community-based, and culturally specific companies that make this City’s nonprofit theatre community so vibrant and critical to our cultural landscape.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to testify today.


Join us in showing your support of the #NYCInspires campaign to urge City Hall to support an in crease in funding for the arts in New York City. Go to now to sign the petition or to have your organization listed as a partner

City Partnership Opportunity: ID NYC
Thursday, December 10, 2015 12:00 AM


Dear A.R.T./New York Members
As many of you know, the City's Municipal ID Card program (ID NYC) has become extremely popular, with over 650,000 individuals signing up in the first year.  Many New Yorkers signed up in order to access the discounts and benefits offered to cardholders by some the City's largest cultural institutions in the inaugural year of the program.
The City is gearing up for a second year of NYC ID program, and A.R.T./New York has been asked to invite YOU to participate by offering a discount (which can be subject to availability) to NYC ID Cardholders. The discounts will apply to those 650,000 who have already registered for an NYC ID card, as well as those who register for a Municipal ID between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016.
We are asking you to consider joining the city's other participating cultural institutions in offering a discount to the NYC ID Cardholders.  Your discounts should apply for productions taking place in calendar year 2016.  You may offer a discount on single tickets, subscriptions, or membership packages. 
The ID NYC program is a great way to reach new audiences in all five boroughs, so I hope all of you will participate.  The City has a special website where ID NYC cardholders can learn which special offers apply to them.  This site is updated on a monthly basis, but you must have your card and list your ID to learn about the benefits. 
There will be a press release, as well as video that will go live on or before Tuesday, December 15th; so if possible, please send your information (see directions below) NO LATER THAN NOON ON DECEMBER 11TH.  You may choose to participate at a later date, you just won't make the announcement.  Also, we will be working on the January website, and since we are closed from 12/24 to January 4, we'd like to get a jump on listing as many of you as possible.
Here is how you can sign up:
E-mail my assistant Rachel Haspel at [email protected] and tell her:
  • the name of your theatre, 
  • your venue address, 
  • staff contact person for the ID NYC  program, along with their e-mail address and phone number,
  • what type of a discount you will be offering (i.e. 25% off tickets - subject to availability, to the following shows [name of show, dates])
  • and your theatre company's website.
I apologize for the short notice, but we were just notified about the fact that there will be a second push for ID NYC registrations.  While you may find that certain individuals who already attend your theatre have ID NYC cards (they offer incredible discounts at gyms, movie theaters and Broadway) I know that many others have applied for these cards as well.
We all know that New York City is an expensive city in which to live.  For many New Yorkers, the cost of living in this city is so high that middle class and working class New Yorkers cannot afford to attend our theaters like the generations before them.  With all the wonderful work you have done to bring the arts to public schools, and, community and senior centers, wouldn't it be great if more members of these communities could experience your work?
In this holiday season, let's all make an effort to give the greatest gift we have, the gift of affordable theatre, to all New York City residents (who have a ID NYC card).
Happy Holidays from your biggest fan,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 12:00 AM

I hope you’ll take a moment to read the information below! Many thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, New York City School Chancellor Carmen Fariña and all of our friends at the New York City Council including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair of the Committee on Libraries, Cultural Affairs and International Intergroup Relations, and Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Education for prioritizing funding for arts education in the recently approved budget for New York City’s 2015 Fiscal Year. Their advocacy resulted in $23 million in new City funding dedicated to increasing access to the arts in NYC public schools through professional development, hiring additional arts teachers and expanding opportunities for cultural partners to work with public schools.

In addition, we thank the NYC Council for their leadership in expanding the Cultural After School Adventure (CASA) program by providing funding for cultural partnerships at over 100 additional New York City schools in the 2014-2015 school year. And a special shout out to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for releasing the Arts Forward report, which played an important role in advocating for the $23 million included in this year’s budget for arts education and for hosting an upcoming opportunity for arts leaders to meet with educators who very much want and need our support at an Arts & Education Mixer at El Museo.

I. FY15 Cultural After School Adventures (CASA) Update

We understand that many of you are endeavoring to secure FY15 CASA funding from theNYC Council for cultural programming at NYC public schools. We understand that NYC Council Finance has asked each Council Member to submit a list of the seven cultural organizations that have been selected to partner with schools in their Council District by September 17. Each cultural organization selected will receive $20K through the CASA initiative for programming at the partnering schools. It is anticipated that the Council will officially approve CASA funding allocations at the Stated Meeting currently scheduled for Tuesday, September 23. Please note, these dates are not official and are subject to change or extension. We will keep you apprised of any new or updated information we receive

regarding this funding.


If you have any further questions regarding the Arts Mixer or CASA funding, please let us




On September 30th, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will host an Arts Mixer at el Museo del Barrio (1230 Fifth Avenue) from 4pm-6pm. The Borough President is hosting this event to encourage partnerships between public schools in Manhattan and cultural organizations. All cultural organizations are welcome to attend, as are Manhattan public school teachers and administrators. Your organization can RSVP for this event by calling (212) 669-4039. RSVPs are requested.

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