Broadway producer and New York City real estate macher Elie Hirschfeld has announced the launch of www.hirschfeldproductions.com, a website that salutes the self-described tycoon’s “enthusiasm for theater.” The URL will be “spotlighting highly-acclaimed Broadway shows” he has co-produced, according to a recent press release.
A more detailed biography of Hirschfeld is available on the website of the real estate firm Hirschfeld Properties LLC. His ventures include the Hotel Pennsylvania, the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Park Avenue Court and the Gotham and Exchange Tower. Hirschfeld is the son of the quixotic parking-garage tycoon Abe Hirschfeld and, by launching the new website, is aiming to ameliorate his public image, damaged earlier this year by reportage in the New York Post of an ugly divorce situation.
The press release includes this statement: “My goal is to share my love for theater through my personal story. With this website, I hope to inspire people to engage in the arts and develop a lifelong passion, as I have.”
Excellent news. The Clyde Fitch Report has one question: What is Hirschfeld actively doing to ensure there are more performance spaces for the thousands of qualified and talented theater artists in New York City who aren’t fortunate enough to receive a Broadway salary? Actually, two questions: Do real estate moguls in New York City have a moral responsibility for helping to build and maintain the physical infrastructure for artists? Or is it really all about using the profits from real estate ventures to invest in commercial Broadway productions in order to make, well, more money?
To be sure, Hirschfeld, according to his bio, has a sense of civic duty:
A trustee emeritus of Brown University and Long Island University, a Director of the U.S. Board of the Weizman Institute of Science, and a trustee of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, Beth Israel Hospital, Long Island College Hospital and New York Eye & Ear Infirmary, Mr. Hirschfeld remains engaged in a variety of educational and cultural organizations, and his philanthropy directly benefits the life of the community. Mr. Hirschfeld has served on the Board of Directors or Steering Committees for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, First Women’s Bank, the League of American Theatres and Producers, and the Jewish National Fund.
But is the American stage so intrinsically healthy that it can’t withstand philanthropic support from those who want to share their of love of theater?
Perhaps as Hirschfeld continues, through his website and other activities, to raise his public profile, the industry will learn more about the ways, financial and otherwise, he is committed to nurturing the American theater artists of tomorrow.