Link to our Anti-Racism resources
UPDATE: September 23, 2020
It's more than six months since the pandemic first forced the closure of our theaters resulting in the cancellation or postponement of over 20 shows, and the forced lay-off of 30 part-time and 7 full-time employees. While reeling from the closure, 59E59 Theaters joined theaters across the country in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) calling for a sea change in civil rights and for anti-racism action. We acknowledge that we’ve failed our BIPOC colleagues. We see the civil injustices in our country and we hear our BIPOC colleagues’ demands.
As a non-producing venue who supports and engages specific theater companies and their artists, we hold a position of privilege. And, as a foundation whose mission is to champion the work of non-profit theater companies, we have to do better. Historically, we have not lived up to our aspirations to be a safe and equitable environment for our community of employees, artists, patrons, and other guests, and we are taking action.
For the past few months our remaining staff have been re-examining 59E59 Theatres values and today we are sharing some of our commitments as part of this journey. Click here to read our Anti-racism Action Plan.
August 2020 Update
Our commitment to Anti-Racism
In early June, in response to the civil rights protests following the murder of George Floyd by police, 59E59 Theaters joined theaters across the country in solidarity with Black, Indigienous and People of Color (BIPOC) calling for a sea change in civil rights, and for Anti-Racism action. Through contemporary civil rights teaching from educators like Ibram X. Kendi (author of “How To Be An Anti-Racist”) we understand it is not enough to be “not racist” but that we must be “Anti-Racist”; that in order to fulfill the promise of civil rights, we must actively work to interrupt the everyday systems of white supremacy in our culture. Simultaneously, BIPOC colleagues across the industry gathered to discuss the scope and pervasiveness of anti-Blackness and racism in the American theater.
A movement, “We See You, White American Theater” #WESEEYOUWAT, emerged. This was followed shortly by a list of demands that seek to be a catalyst for sweeping changes to the work environment for BIPOC theater workers. You can read the demands here. The time and labor that went into these demands was tremendous. We are indebted to its creators for providing a robust set of checks and balances to guide 59E59 Theaters as we build an Anti-Racism action plan.
From March through June we were focused on the fallout of the closure of our theater due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the assistance of the federal government Payroll Protection Program, we were able to keep our full staff employed through late June, even though there were no shows for them to work on. Regretfully, we were ultimately forced to lay off 30 part-time, and 7 full-time employees. We have postponed or cancelled over 20 shows, impacting more than 20 theater companies from now through the end of 2020. We remain optimistic. Our reopening date is fluid, but we are confident that we will be ready to welcome the community back to the theater when we are able to do so in a regular manner. At this time, we anticipate reopening when there is a vaccine.
Currently, our remaining six staff members are deep into working on a strategic plan that includes developing an Anti-Racism action plan. Our first steps have, of course, been education, research, and self evaluation. Silence is not an option to overcome the change that lies ahead. We don’t accept that racism is a political issue alone. We want to be a part of a new, better “normal'' that we are all trying to build together as a community. We acknowledge our past failures to support our BIPOC colleagues. We see the civil injustices in our country and we hear our BIPOC colleagues’ demands. This is the beginning of a larger conversation and though we do not have all the answers our staff have walked into this work open-minded and open-hearted. We look forward to sharing our action plan in the coming months, and expanded engagement with our community when our doors are re-opened.
In the interim, please join us online as we continue our mission by supporting non-profit theater companies with a program of both free and paid live stream offerings.
June 15, 2020
59E59 Theaters Suspends Programming through December, 2020
In prioritizing the health and wellness of our visiting artists, our staff, and our patrons, as well as our community at large, 59E59 Theaters’ has suspended all programming through the December 31, 2020. We have a reduced staff managing operations during this pause and we will be monitoring the Box Office and Info email inboxes, and we will do our best to respond to queries.
June 1, 2020
BLACK LIVES MATTER, A Message of Unity from 59E59 Theaters
This week we’ve watched the devastating unfolding of incidents of racially motivated violence and discrimination, from the threatening of Christian Cooper in New York City’s Central Park to the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis which sparked protests nationwide.
“The waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States. The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support.” Barack Obama (today)
You come to our theater for exploration and empathy, connection, and community, and so we feel it’s important to acknowledge this moment of deep pain and heartache in our homes and in homes across the country.
Attending the theater for many of us is cathartic. The stories on our stages serve as a vehicle through which we are able to have difficult conversations with friends and family, to celebrate our differences, and connect through our shared experiences. Now, more than ever, we feel the absence of not being able to gather together in-person. The staff of 59E59 Theaters met this morning, heavy-hearted, for our daily zoom check-in and vowed to renew our commitment to listen, support, and educate ourselves. We stand on the shoulders of all the activists and protesters who have come before us in unity against racism. We encourage you, our community, to join us in raising our collective voice once again to acknowledge that we can do better.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” - Maya Angelou
We’ve compiled a list of resources and tools to support us all in learning together.
In honor of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many more.
59E59 Theaters Team
March 30, 2020
Brits Off Broadway Suspended
Due to the continuing impact of the novel coronavirus, 59E59 Theaters has, with a heavy heart, decided to additionally cancel Brits Off Broadway (April 14 - June 28). We are already in discussions with our UK colleagues about reprogramming most of the previously announced shows into our Brits season in 2021.
March 13, 2020
March Performances Suspended
In response to the public health concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, 59E59 Theaters has made the difficult decision to suspend all public programming out of an abundance of caution through March 31, 2020.
We are in the business of bringing people together for a shared experience, and feel a huge responsibility to our community to take proactive steps to support the NY Department of Health in limiting the outbreak.
With all three theaters running at near-capacity for the month of March, 59E59 Theaters' highest priority is to the health and wellness of nearly 10,000 patrons, guest artists, and staff members in our venue, as well as our community at large. We are navigating an unprecedented situation, so we thank you in advance for your patience, understanding, and support.
What does this mean if I have tickets to performances? If you have purchased tickets to performances of Whisper House, Mr. Toole, Barococo, and Boys Will Be Boys through March 31, our box office will be reaching out to you in the coming days.
Please note that our administrative and box office staff will be working remotely during this time, so we ask that if you have questions or concerns to please email us here.
We will be closely monitoring the situation as it continues to evolve, and will share any updates through our usual channels of communication.