Innovative Theatre Foundation Receives Major Funding

by Naomi Crews

Donn Russell (far right) raises a glass to toast his endowment to the New York Innovative Theatre Foundation. Photo by Marc GoldbergPhilanthropist Donn Russell donated $200,000 to The Innovative Theatre Foundation (IT Foundation) Monday evening at a special event honoring him with the Founders Award.



New York, NY-January 13, 2015: At a special event on Monday evening The Innovative Theatre Foundation (IT Foundation), the organization dedicated to celebrating Off-Off-Broadway, announced that they are receiving a major endowment of $200,000 from philanthropist Donn Russell. 

Over the last half century, Donn Russell has dedicated himself to nurturing the performing arts in lower Manhattan and elsewhere with donations and grants mainly for non-traditional theater endeavors. First as a co-founder and director of the Peg Santvoord Foundation beginning in 1965, which donated seminal aid to a number of the talented individuals and groups who are well known in Off and Off-Off-Broadway circles today. On his own he has endeavored to seek out and provide support to the most gifted experimental innovators in the field. His book, AVANT-GUARDIAN: 1965-1990: A Theater Foundation Director's 25 Years Off Broadway, attests to it.

"Since today's protagonists themselves have embraced such far-reaching  technical advances that allow for amazing presentations undreamed of earlier, I encourage them by funding an organization such as the Innovative Theatre Foundation, that is then capable of granting awards- and recognition -to a far broader range of performance-related categories than ever before," said Russell.

Through the New York Innovative Theatre Awards, the IT Foundation brings recognition to the amazing work being done Off-Off-Broadway. Over the past ten years, the IT Awards has honored over 1,800 individual artists, over 500 productions, and 420 theatre companies.

"We are truly honored that Donn has decided to invest in the Innovative Theatre Foundation and is entrusting us to help further his mission of supporting Indie Theatre," said Co-Executive Director, Shay Gines.

As a part of the evening, Executive Directors Gines and Nick Micozzi presented Russell with the Founders Award, which is given to individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to the Foundation. "This is a special award that has previously been presented only in our first year and our fifth year and now in celebration of our tenth year we are excited to recognize someone whose generosity and vision is helping to ensure that our organization will be around for another 10 years and beyond," said Micozzi.

While specifics on how this money will be spent have not yet been made public, the Foundation has confirmed that a portion of the funding will be used for organizational infrastructure and a portion will be passed onto the artists and companies working Off-Off-Broadway. "We have lots of big surprises planned for the next few years," said Gines.

The Innovative Theatre Foundation is a not-for-profit organization recognizing the great work of New York City's Off-Off-Broadway, honoring its artistic heritage, and providing a meeting ground for this extensive and richly varied community. The organization advocates for Off-Off-Broadway and recognizes the unique and essential role it plays in contributing to American and global culture. They believe that publicly recognizing excellence in Off-Off-Broadway will expand audience awareness and foster greater appreciation of the New York theatre experience.

Sponsors: Theatre Development Fund's Costume Collection, Kampfire Films PR and United Stages