NYC should steal this idea to help the city AND TheaterMakers.
Walk down any neighborhood in Manhattan and you’ll see a slew of empty storefronts.
The pandemic took a bite out of a lot of those street level businesses and sent them packing. Delis that have been in some locations for decades are gone. Restaurants, sneaker shops . . . all coronavirus victims.
Back in October, it was reported that midtown vacancy was at a whopping 30%.
And things aren’t getting better. Yet.
So what to do? Let those prime real estate spots sit there? Let them be a constant reminder to everyone who walks by that the city is still struggling to get to its feet?
When I see those empty spaces, all I can see is, “Unrealized Potential.”
And, of course, all I can imagine is . . . what if we could give that space to some imaginative TheaterMakers?
What if we started a Storefront Theater Movement in NYC . . . like the one that created the cool theater scene in Chicago?
What if the city stepped in and paid the leases for a handful of storefronts and then sublet them to our most creative artistic minds for $1/year. Give Michael Arden a space. Give Zhailon Levingston a space. Give Stephanie Klemons a space. Let them showcase new theater by new TheaterMakers. Watch what happens! New theater, new audiences, new ENERGY.
And no more empty storefronts.
Better than letting the space sit there, right?
And it doesn’t have to be the city that needs to step in to help (I never like to wait for politicians). That’s right . . . I’m talking to you, landlords, who love the theater! Got a space sitting there? Give it to a TheaterMaker and let them do a pop-up show. Take a percentage of the door. Put your name above the title as a Producer. PS. Your space would get press! There’s a lot of value you can create for yourself if you think outside your storefront. And you’d help create art. What better ROI is there than that?
The most challenging obstacle for TheaterMakers in this city is finding space to make theater. Because it’s usually so expensive. Take that barrier away, and there’s no stopping what TheaterMakers could do for the theater . . . and for the city.
And with all those empty storefronts theaters just sitting there . . . begging to be filled . . . it seems like there is no better time than now to fill it.
So, if you’re a TheaterMaker in NYC or any city . . . and you see an empty place to make theater, call the phone number, knock on the door, and ask the question . . . you never know when you’ll find a theater-loving landlord.
Oh and PS, there’s another way to do this that doesn’t need politicians or landlords. Any Angels out there reading this? If you ever wanted to start a cool theater company that supported new plays and musicals by emerging TheaterMakers, and take advantage of what I think is one of the greatest opportunities in the theater scene (location, location, location) . . . drop me a line. If you take care of the rent, I’ll take care of the rest . . . and we could start the storefront revolution together. 🙂 You can email me here.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.