CUNY and TDF Partner in a New Initiative, Making NYC Theatre, Music and Dance Accessible to the CUNY Community

January 19, 2011 | The University

CUNY and Theatre Development Fund (TDF) have partnered in a new initiative that will bring theatre arts to the CUNY community.

CUNY/TDF BEAT (Bridging Education and Theatre) is a program designed to introduce the CUNY community to New York City’s performing arts through a range of programs designed by TDF and tailored to the needs of the CUNY community.  Since 80 percent of CUNY students remain in New York City after graduation, this partnership will help them become lifelong theatregoers, able to enjoy and participate in a vital and vibrant part of the cultural life of New York City.

CUNY/TDF BEAT is already up and running at four CUNY campuses – Baruch College, Brooklyn College, LaGuardia Community College and Lehman College – with an eye to expand each year, eventually including every CUNY campus.  The initiative consists of programs that will engage CUNY students, introducing them to the world of the performing arts — theatre, music and dance.  TDF is also offering discounted annual TDF memberships for students, faculty and staff at the four campuses currently participating in CUNY/TDF BEAT.

CUNY/TDF BEAT has already launched four programs at the campuses involved in the initiative:

  • Production Process – a theatre enrichment program in which theatre professionals from different performing arts disciplines participate in moderated discussions on various aspects of theatre production for an audience of CUNY students;
  • Mentoring – a credited program in which a theatre professional mentors a group of CUNY students in a specific discipline;
  • Internships – CUNY students participate in for-credit internships in their specific field of study at TDF and throughout the theatre industry; and,
  • Ticketing – each school will have a group participate in TDF’s “New Audiences of New York,” a program which introduces theatre, through attendance and education, to underserved groups across the five boroughs. Students from each campus will attend theatre performances and participate in pre- and post-performance discussions.

One of the Production Process discussions was held in November at Brooklyn College.  The subject, “The Director/Designer Collaboration,” was a great success, with nearly 100 students attending.  The two-hour discussion, with prominent theatre participants, included director Carolyn Cantor, scenic designer David Korins, costume designer Clint Ramos and Ben Stanton, a lighting designer.

The panel discussion, which was moderated by Stephen DiMenna, a director, was followed by a question and answer period. Upcoming Production Process discussions, “The Business of Theatre,” “The Art and Craft of Playwriting” and “A Conversation with Casting Agents” will take place during the spring semester at Baruch College, Lehman College and LaGuardia Community College, respectively.

CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, and TDF, the country’s largest not-for-profit performing arts service organization, share unique roles at the heart of New York City.   Both represent deep traditions of service to education and the arts, enriching millions each year – CUNY, through its role in educating over half a million students in academic, adult, continuing and professional education programs at its 23 institutions citywide, and TDF by serving over one million New Yorkers and visitors each year through its TKTS Booths, membership, education and access programs.

“We at CUNY are proud and delighted to foster this important collaboration with TDF,” said Alexandra W. Logue, CUNY’s Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and University Provost. “The University values deeply the contributions of the arts to education and civic life. This partnership is a win-win situation for everyone involved: The CUNY community benefits from the educational and cultural opportunities that TDF provides, and the University contributes to the growth of new audiences and theatre aficionados in our city.”

“When the legendary playwright, Wendy Wasserstein, asked TDF to join her in founding the Open Doors program, she told us that she believed that in a city that housed a ‘theatre district,’ going to the theatre wasn’t a privilege, but was the birthright of every student to be able to avail themselves of it,” said TDF’s Executive Director, Victoria Bailey. “TDF shares that core belief and we are excited to act on it with the entire CUNY Community. Both advancing live theatre and arts education are core to TDF’s mission, and this partnership with CUNY, one of the largest and most honored institutions of higher education in the world, has limitless potential.”

THEATRE DEVELOPMENT FUND (TDF) has played a unique role in strengthening live theatre and dance in New York City for the past 42 years. This not-for-profit service organization’s programs have filled over 78 million seats at discount prices (with theatre lovers who would normally not be able to attend live performance) and returned nearly 2 billion dollars in revenue to thousands of theatre, dance and music productions. Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF’s membership, voucher, access and education programs as well as its Costume Collection, help to make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone. TDF recently published its first book, Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play, and just launched the official TKTS iPhone app. To learn more about TDF, go to: www.tdf.org.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847 as The Free Academy, the University’s 23 institutions include 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health. The University serves 262,000 academic credit students and 269,808 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. More than one million visitors and two million page views are served each month by www.cuny.edu, the University’s website.