The Year Ahead for Arts Advocacy

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This is a Downtown Dispatches guest post from Guy Yedwab, the League of Independent Theater‘s new Managing Director.

LIT logoIf you haven’t been following the League of Independent Theater over the last two years, it’s going to be hard to recap it all right now. We got politically active in the 2013 Mayoral/City Council elections, expanded our subsidized rehearsal space program to include partnerships with local schools, worked with our political partners on increasing access to space throughout the city, and testified (alongside many other cultural advocate organizations) on behalf of a city-wide cultural plan.

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As exciting as it’s all been, this coming year is promising to be an even more exiting year.

In the spring (dates and venues to be determined), we’ll be convening two more gatherings.

One will be a follow-up to our Meet the Candidates event from 2013, to talk with our elected-official partners and hear how progress is coming on our Platform for the Performing Arts. This is the beginning of an ongoing conversation between our members in the performing arts community and the elected officials who represent us in city government. This is a key year, politically, as 2015 will include the hopeful renewal of the rent stabilization and control laws in New York. We need to link arms with tenants’ rights advocates across the city to ensure that these needed protections are extended and expanded in the coming years.

The other will be our participation in a green theater festival. We are working to build resources to help continue the sustainable practices that our field has developed over many years. Veteran independent theatermakers have developed strategies to produce theater in ways that minimize wastefulness, and we will help share that knowledge, as well as find new opportunities for our sector to deepen their sustainable practices.

Meanwhile, we’ll be continuing to build out our resource library (including more resources for green and sustainable practices), to work on the legislation we’re partnered on, to explore solutions to long-term code and contract issues, and more. We’ll continue granting subsidized rehearsal spaces, and look to grow and expand the size of that program — hopefully with new spaces in new places, partnered with schools, senior centers and other existing community resources, as well as unused commercial or city real estate.

On a personal note, this will be the first year where I will be serving as Managing Director alongside our Artistic Director John Clancy. Having been with the League since 2009, it’s a deep honor to continue to extend the work that Chris Harcum and Jennifer Connelly Darling have done before me, and that all of my compatriots in the League have been doing. The League is just a collection of spunky (and busy) volunteers, and we rely on you to help get the word out and to come join us.

Have we left out any priorities? Let us know by responding to our survey. If you’re not currently a member, you can use the survey to join the League, so don’t let that stop you — we hope to see you manning the barricades on behalf of the cultural sector that we all love so deeply.

On February 9th at 6:30 PM at CUNY’s Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, we will be joining a number of cultural support organizations for Crisis to Creation: A Town Hall on the Future of New York City Theatre. We’ll be sharing strategies and successes on how we’ve found ways to partner with the community for long term sustainability.


Guy Yedwab is a theatermaker and activist. Born in Jerusalem and raised in California, he found his way to New York via a degree in experimental theater. Now he serves as the artistic director of Organs of State, an interactive performative ideas lab, and as managing director of the League of Independent Theater. He’s also a traveling software salesman, a soccer junkie, and an official Crazy Uncle.