The Billie Holiday Theatre was awarded a $100,000 grant to help expand its free and discounted ticket program.
The historic Bedford Stuyvesant institution is one of 12 theaters in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan to benefit from a $1.5 million grant awarded from the JL Greene Arts Access Fund in The New York Community Trust.
"We are delighted to help ensure that New York's wonderfully robust theater community is accessible to all," said Christina McInerney, president and CEO of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation. "This program will bring new people to the theater, enriching and advancing the lives of city residents."
The program, designed to bring the performing arts to underrepresented audiences throughout New York, also will help theaters create sustainable programs to expand their audiences for the long term and will fund between $100,000 to $250,000 to the selected theatres' programs.
"We are deeply honored to be amongst the theaters receiving this grant as it affirms The Billie's powerful legacy of community engagement," said Dr. Indira Etwaroo, executive director of The Billie Holiday Theatre.
Founded in 1972 by the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, The Billie Holiday Theatre is an OBIE and AUDELCO Award-winning theater devoted to telling the stories of people of African descent and reflecting contemporary issues through jazz, opera, ballet, film, poetry and more. Actors, writers, designers and musicians like Samuel L. Jackson, Debbie Allen, Tichina Arnold, Bill Cobbs, Jerome Preston Bates, Michele Shay, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Carol Woods, Elaine Graham and Ebony JoAnn, among others, developed their craft at the longstanding institution.
"This grant from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation and The New York Community Trust signals a profound and significant shift in creating greater equity for audience members to experience stories that matter but also for theatres to connect more deeply with their community in meaningful ways," said Etwaroo.
The Billie Holiday Theatre will utilize the funds to expand its free and discounted ticket program beyond subsidized student and senior citizen tickets to also include low-income residents in central Brooklyn, which comprises the largest community of people of African descent in the nation, the organization said.