New Jersey Theatre Alliance, has delivered a new round of funding via the FY23 New Jersey Theatre Alliance Theatre Worker Relief Fund. This fund, made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund, offers financial relief to artists affiliated with Alliance member theatres who are still feeling the negative financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
John McEwen, Executive Director of New Jersey Theatre Alliance says, “The theatre industry as a whole has made strong progress towards recovery, but there is still a long way to go before our industry reaches pre-pandemic levels of employment.”
With this fund, the Alliance distributed $50,000 in the form of $1,000 grants to individual theatre artists.Theatre artists who received support included actors, stage managers, teaching artists, directors, designers, technicians, choreographers, directors, dramaturgs, and playwrights.
Poet Helena Lewis, who is affiliated with the Paterson Performing Arts Development Council, recently received one of the grants and describes her excitement when being notified of the grant, “When I opened my email and learned that I would be receiving a $1,000 grant from The New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund, I actually shed a few tears. For the first time since the start of the pandemic I felt validated as an artist. Like many others working in the creative arts, I have lost so much during the age of COVID-19, from the passing of loved ones to enduring extreme financial hardship. However, what I have lost more than anything else was the opportunity to be creative. Receiving this grant has given me something that I have not had in a long time, HOPE.”
Theatre artists of color, disabled theatre artists, and trans/non-binary theatre artists have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and over 60% of the grants were distributed to individuals who identify as being part of one or more of those groups.
“We are pleased to provide financial support to individual artists, teaching artists, and history professionals in New Jersey through intermediary organizations like the New Jersey Theatre Alliance. It is important that we recognize their significance and value to the arts and culture ecosystem and respond to their needs, said Lynne Toye, Executive Director of the New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund. It will take a long time for them to fully rebound from the financial devastation and personal loss they experienced.”
McEwen continues, “We are very fortunate to be able to continue to help theatre artists and hope that this Fund offers financial relief and contributes to a positive relationship between the member theatre and its affiliated artists who have been affected by the pandemic.”
Performer and fund recipient Gia Ware ends by saying, “Before the pandemic, I felt very grounded in the fact that I worked as a performing artist. I worked for theaters in NJ as well as all over the country and was able to provide for myself. Having a family and trying to work is already a challenge but to add the Pandemic and the financial stress it caused on my household was very stressful, scary and depressing. With opportunities given by this organization and The New Jersey Arts and Culture Renewal Fund, it helps tremendously and reminds me that artists like myself aren't forgotten.”
Founded in 1981, New Jersey Theatre Alliance was the first statewide service organization for professional, not-for-profit theatre companies in the United States, and is a leader in developing model programs that unite, promote, strengthen, and cultivate professional theatre in New Jersey. Funding for the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a not-for-profit organization, is provided in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, and contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations including Amazon, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Grunin Foundation, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, Bank of America, City National Bank, The Shubert Foundation, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The F.M. Kirby Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, and The Union Foundation.