NEW YORK - Frigid New York, a production company and venue manager in the East Village, had just wrapped up its biggest theatre festival of the year when the two theatres it leases in the East Village went dark.
Restrictions brought on by the coronavirus Pandemic forced the closures and the end of production, in some cases that were planned for months.
It's not just us, there's a lot of theatres around the city now, they've been struggling and struggling and struggling, and suddenly we're getting knee capped," said Frigid Managing Artistic Director Erez Ziv.
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Ziv says Frigid's two theatres, the historic 99-seat Kraine on East 4th Street and Under St. Mark's, a 45-seat theatre on St. Mark's Place, host around 1,000 performances a year. He says other small theatre companies that own their buildings or are on city-owned property likely can survive this, but since he leases from commercial landlords, it's been more difficult to get financial help available for arts institutions.
"The funders are worried that they don't want to give money to organizations that are going to spend it on rent, which I understand the impulse, but if we can't pay rent, we won't be here, and it's not like they are rushing to give me space where i don't have to pay rent," Ziv said.
Ziv says for now they are presenting online performances and the community is stepping up with donations so he can pay his staff. The husband and father of two says he has no income coming in while the theaters remain dark.
NY1 "On Stage" host Frank DiLella says this is happening across the performing arts world.
"There's no one making money and there's no money coming into the theatre and as we know Real Estate isn't cheap in this city and daily costs are expensive so these smaller businesses are truly struggling," he said.
DiLella notes that without these smaller theatre companies that allow for experimentation, there is no place for future greats of the stage to begin their careers.
"La Mama Theatre down in the East Village gave the multi Tony award-winning artist Harvey Fierstein his start, acclaimed playwright Sam Shepard as well, and Julie Taymor, of Disney's The Lion King fam," DiLella said.
DiLella calls these small theatre companies and venues essential to the fabric that make up the performing arts community, and the city.
To find out more about online performances, head to Frigid.NYC.