Support Our Campaign To Raise $25k By June 30!


Since the launch of our 2023/2024 Season in September, we:

Commissioned and/or presented new projects by Wanjiru Kamuyu, Takahiro Yamamoto (with Portland Institute for Contemporary Art and On The Boards), Michelle Ellsworth (with EMPAC), Antonio Ramos (with Abrons Arts Center), chameckilerner, animals & giraffes, YOURS TRULY, Juliana May (reprise of Family Happiness, with NYLA), Ursula Eagly, Stacy Grossfield, Leslie Cuyjet, Heather Kravas, Alex Romania, Angie Pittman, and jess pretty.

Hosted early stage creative residencies by Jen Rosenblit & Phil Hayes and The Huxleys (in partnership with Abbottsford Convent, Melbourne, Australia); and a beautiful edition of Donna Uchizono’s Dedications.

Hosted a massive Block Party (for the second year in a row!).

Received some really good press.

Introduced a new tiered ticketing system.

Launched Happy Hour, Dinner & A Show in partnership with amazing local restaurants.

I’ll try to be as direct, and personal, as I can; if you can stomach it, please read to the end (including the footnotes)!

As I reflect* on the season that is just now drawing to a close (but not quite! Don’t miss Angie Pittman’s Black Life Chord Changes and jess pretty’s call and response, both of which are squarely in the “last but definitely not least” category), I find myself continually awe- and/or dumb-struck by how starkly dichotomous things feel these days. I’ll explain:

I’m an artist; and I co-direct an organization which lives and breathes and depends upon the work of artists; and I have witnessed, this year, a return – or the beginning of a return** – to a sense of risk-taking, of spectacular failure, of big swings, of “leaving it all on the stage”, of keenly interested eyes and faces and bodies in the audience, of post-show conversations at the bar, of commitment to (and gathering together in shared commitment to) the thing. The thing that brought me, for better or worse, to this beautiful and disastrous line of work, in the first place. It’s so heartening, I could cry.

But. BUT.

This year has ALSO been marked – or scarred – by a series of profoundly destabilizing funding setbacks. I’ve been doing this work for a LONG TIME***, and I’m well acquainted with (and have fully internalized) the surreal ups and downs of the not-for-profit life, but, BUT: it feels existential in a way that it hasn’t, before now. I could name examples – the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs being chief among them – but life is short. Needless to say, a substantial (for us) chunk of public and private dollars have rapidly disappeared****. A number of foundations which have historically supported us are shifting their funding priorities, or simply not funding us anymore; others are closing altogether. It’s real.

Should The Chocolate Factory Theater exist? Does New York City, and the world, and the artist community, need a place like ours?

I’ll answer my own question: of course it should. Of course it does. And I hope that you agree, because your support is essential to our survival.

We do important work. We meaningfully (help to) sustain the lives and careers of artists who bring important, lasting ideas into the world. We pay those artists (110 in FY24, to be precise), and our staff, a living wage. Artistic, administrative (& we’re a very small team, to be clear), and technical labor comprises 80+% of our budget. I’ll say it again: for me, it’s existential. I hope you feel the same.

*written by the archetypal white male middle aged person who is doggedly / finally coming around to the idea, if not the practice, of (a) being more “reflective” and “measured” in all things, so that he may (b) perhaps attain some measure of “wisdom” in his later years.

**it’s hyperbolic, I know. And of COURSE I’ve presented and witnessed strong work by amazing artists, all along. I’m speaking generally, and exaggerating a bit for emphasis. But my point stands.

***I’m 51 years old. Later this year, we’ll celebrate 20 years as a venue, 25 years as an independent performing arts organization, meaning: I’ve been doing this for nearly all of my adulthood; and roughly 50% of my waking days since birth.

****I’ll be happy to provide full details for anyone who’s interested.