The Playgoer: Mellon Grants, reconsidered

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mellon Grants, reconsidered

Looks like my initial enthusiasm for the new Mellon Foundation new-play grants may have been misplaced.

Check the well-argued comments to see why.

1 comment:

RLewis said...

Just in case anyone follows this thread, I want to make sure I add that although I may be skeptical of this funds repackaging, that doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of Mellon. Their main theater fund supports some of my favorite companies (Atlantic, BAX, Builders Association, Dixon Place, The Flea, HERE, Mabou Mines, MCC, Ma-Yi, Mint, Ontological-Hysteric, Primary Stages, Rattlestick, Soho Rep’, Target Margin, Women's Project, among others).

But this highlights what I think is a bigger point: groups receiving those “multi-year” Mellon funds submit applications on an “invitation only” basis, and they must have an annual budget over $300,000 to even get an invite. How many hundreds of theater companies does that leave out?

Pretty much, the only groups who reach this budget level do so because they have their own space (whether mortgaged or rented). And then those very groups turn around and rent out their space much of the year to the moveable-feast companies who I think are the heart and soul of the nyc theater community.

I believe that these theater groups without their own spaces are in the majority and provide more opportunities, better opportunities (beyond readings and workshops) for the playwrights who really need support (the non-Steinberg awardees). What I haven’t figured out yet is how do these m-f groups come together to make their case to the funders that their numbers will only grow in the future, and that they are as deserving of an invitation to apply as any theater co’ in the real estate business.