A.R.T./New York Relief Fund for NYC Small Theatres and

Leon Levy Foundation COVID Relief Fund

Three Black women in white button ups and orange circle skirts and three black men in orange shirts with black bowties sing in front of a black curtain.
The Braata Folk Singers at the Christmas Grand Market by Braata Productions, a recipient of the Fall 2020 A.R.T./New York Relief Fund for NYC Small Theatres. Photo by Rolande Hyde Photography.



In Fall of 2020, in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its impact on New York City-based small theatres, the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York created the A.R.T./New York Relief Fund for NYC Small Theatres. Originally seeded by a generous gift from The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), with subsequent support from the Seth Sprague Foundation and A.R.T./New York, the fund created an accessible relief fund for small theatres with annual budgets under $250k based or primarily producing in New York City. Grant applications were reviewed and scored on a rolling basis by a diverse panel of theatre makers and administrators from a range of roles in the field nominated by the public. These 55 companies were the first recipients of the fund.

In December of 2020, the Leon Levy Foundation made a generous gift to support A.R.T./New York’s relief fund efforts leading to the creation of the Leon Levy Foundation COVID Relief Fund. The Leon Levy Foundation COVID Relief Fund extended relief grants to seven additional theatres and supported increased grant amounts to twelve companies in Fall 2020.

Applications for the Spring 2021 Leon Levy Foundation COVID Relief Fund opened in March 2021, and peer panels met monthly to score and determine funding. By the end of June 2021, the program issued $370,000 in flexible emergency funding to 121 small theatre companies. Funding for the Spring cycle was provided by the Leon Levy Foundation, the Edith Lutyens and Norman Bel Geddes Foundation, and individual donors.

Your contribution to this Emergency Relief Fund will directly support theatres impacted by COVID-19. To support the Fund, click here to make an online contribution or reach out to Melissa Sandor at [email protected] with any questions.

A.R.T./New York Relief Fund Program Goals

  • To provide financial relief to nonprofit theatre organizations (including those that are fiscally sponsored or “non-profit in spirit”) with annual operating budgets under $250,000 who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • To fund a vibrant mix of theatres working with diverse aesthetics and serving a wide range of cultural communities across New York City.
  • To support companies who are impacting the field in New York City and who have had limited access to relief funding and financial support.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Demonstrated Need and Impact of Grant (40%)
    • Panelists will consider both the quantitative impact of COVID-19 and the qualitative impact of COVID19 on the theatre. 
    • Does the applicant make a clear case for funding and share the impact receipt of this grant might have on their theatre? Would receipt of this grant help them to stabilize, address capacity issues, address various impacts of COVID-19, or address an opportunity or challenge over the course of the grant?
    • Does the applicant make a case for funding?
  • Impact and Service to the Community (40%)
    • Is the company creating work and programming that distinguishes itself from others in serving a specific community of artists or audience members?
    • Is the theatre’s work, staff, and/or artists reflective of and responsive to the community the company serves? Does the programming, staff, and/or artists of the theatre represent marginalized or underrepresented voices, communities, and/or artists on stage and off and/or centers ideas, subject matter, voices, or artists that are often marginalized or underrepresented?
    • How does the theatre and its work impact the local theatrical field? 
    • How is the company and its programming relevant to the current conversations in theatre and the field or society at large?
  • Organizational Identity (20%)
    • Does the applicant clearly articulate its mission, vision, and organizational goals? Are these in sync with one another? Is the work of the company and how they have responded to the COVID19 pandemic reflective of the stated mission, vision, and goals of the company?
    • Is the company serving a diverse audience and cohort of artists, and defining diversity effectively for their community?
    • There are many different ways of writing about the organizational identity of a company. However, applicants should articulate a clear mission statement, and address how COVID-19 impacted their ability to execute their mission.

The A.R.T./New York Relief Fund for NYC Small Theatres is made possible with generous funding by the Leon Levy Foundation, the Seth Sprague Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the Edith Lutyens and Norman Bel Geddes Foundation, and A.R.T./New York.