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Secret Theatre–in danger of closing–starts online fundraiser

Richard Mazda

August 19, By Christian Murray

The secret is out.

Richard Mazda, the founder of the Secret Theatre, is looking for donations in order to save his theater from closing.

Mazda, who operates the off-Broadway theater at 44-02 23rd Street, said his theater company got into a financial hole after the Department of Buildings discovered his building was not up to code—and he was stung with fines, architecture fees and other costs.

Mazda, who said the theater runs on a very slim margin, had not budgeted for such hefty expenses.

With his back against the wall, Mazda is hoping to raise $10,000 by the first week of September via a fund-raising campaign on the website Indiegogo. He is asking for donations for as little as $10. To date, he has received about $400.

The theater relies for the most part on ticket sales. It does not receive many donations and is not eligible to receive taxpayer funded grants.

Furthermore, he said, good shows don’t always bring in much in the way of profit. “We often do a show that is well received… with full audiences… and only still break even or make such a small profit,” he said on his fundraising video.

The theater puts on plays, musicals and children’s shows. The venue offers space that is rented out for rehearsals, parties, art exhibits and film screenings.

Mazda, who was the founder of the LIC Arts Open, said if he had to close “it would be a disaster for me, personally, and for the off-off Broadway community in New York City.”

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13 Comments

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Patrick

It’s mind boggling to me how clueless some folks are. They prefer to snipe but do not come from the shadows to openly or positively participate in community affairs. It’s so easy to just throw any garbage at the wall a brain can cook up and see if it sticks.

We have a Council member who is totally involved, proactive, and dedicated. If you could pull your head out of your ass you would know that.

ABSOLUTELY NOT! IF YOU DISAGREE WITH VAN BRAMER HE IGNORES YOU AND CUTS YOU OFF.

HE GIVES ALL HIS MONIES TO A TINY GROUP OF WELL CONNECTED THAT HAVE TIES TO DEVELOPMENT. THEY SHOULD BE RAISING MONEY ON THEIR OWN TWO FEET INSTEAD OF SUCKING ALL THE OXYGEN FROM THE ROOM FOR EVERYONE ELSE

– CULTURAL SCENE IN LIC WILL SOON BE DEAD UNLESS ALL THE CULTURAL GROUPS UNDERFUNDED BAND TOGETHER AND APPLY PRESSURE. VAN BRAMER HATES TO BE CRITICIZED AND HE WILL RESPOND TO PRESSURE.

Reply
Theater Queen

Ok. I was a bit confused to be honest. I saw the Fractured Atlas link to the Secret and thought that that made it a 501-c3, but it really only grants them a limited status to operate for the length of a project. It still means that they do not hold that status independently and therefore their independent records are not accessible publicly. So I guess it’s technically true that there would be no way to follow up on your “investment” in the theater to see exactly where your money is going.

But in the end, supporting the community is important and we should focus on organizing as a community and finding ways to bring LIC Theater into the mainstream theater conversation and not subject to the whim of some well endowed private interests or savvy producers who find a way to game our system.

Reply
Richard Mazda

We are seeking a full 501c 3 status for The Secret but if people feel more comfortable they can indeed go to Fractured Atlas to donate to us https://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=9008 I offered in an earlier post to give much fuller details to anyone who wishes to email me. Its regrettable that we are in this position but can assure people that if I had any personal money I would prop the place up myself. I sold my apartment in London in 2007 at a profit. One third of the profit was used as a down payment on my apartment and most of the rest went to building the Secret. At the time I knew nothing about American non-profits since I was a new immigrant. 501c3 status is obviously a good thing for most theatre but do not be fooled it takes years to build up the kind of reputation that would have led to a theatre like the Secret. The term For Profit is somewhat misleading since both For Profits and 501c3 are corporations and in our case for profit has been barely breaking even.

Reply
I Love Theatre

Hey “Anonymous Thanks”

The Secret Theatre is a non-profit 501c3. It says so clearly on their website:

http://www.secrettheatre.com/support.html

“You can donate to help the Queens Players and The Secret Theatre thrive by contributing in various ways. To make a tax deductible donation please click HERE.”

“The Queens Players is a fiscally sponsored project of Fractured Atlas
Fiscal Sponsorship is a financial and legal system by which a legally recognized 501(c)(3) public charity (such as Fractured Atlas) provides limited financial and legal oversight for a project initiated independently by an artist. That “project” might be a one-time project or an independent artist or even an arts organization that does not have its own 501(c)(3) status. Once sponsored in this way, the project is eligible to solicit and receive grants and tax-deductible contributions that are normally available only to 501(c)(3) organizations.”

Reply
Richard Mazda

Folks. I really hope the conversation can be about whether people can help us. We wouldn’t put out this fundraising call otherwise – all I can say is that discussions about politics are very important but hopefully you will all understand if I say.. not now. I really have to focus on the immediate tasks ahead. I do not want to ‘call people out’ or get involved in side issues about how the community is run but would point to my own record of contributing to the community through my volunteer work creating and running LIC ARTS OPEN and also by even creating a theatre that exist because I haven’t taken a salary [couldn’t] since i started it. I have a loving and supportive family who grant me this boon and my passion for the arts is and always has been tempered with the knowledge that its a tough life and especially in this country support for the Arts is a tough sell. I further would like people to understand this: America and LIC and the community have been wonderful to me and generally as an immigrant I couldn’t be happier with the local support I have received. It all goes back to a fateful rainy night in Oct 2004 when the original owners of the Creek [Al -Sweetleaf] and Jay were very receptive in letting me set up a theatre company and did not charge me rent. We ate a lot of burritos and drank a lot of Dos Equis to pay our way and now the Creek is run by Rebecca who was one of my first collaborators and is a comedy venue that we can all be proud of. Like anyone I can enjoy a good bitchfest but lets keep it for another time. People are dying and rioting in other parts of the country – I just want to continue to provide a great venue and shows for this community and cannot indulge in mud-slinging. I am grateful for your help.

Reply
anonymous thanks

It would be easier to donate if there were a way to track where the funds were spent. 501-C3 status allows this by looking up the I 90. How can this transparency be achieved with a For Profit like The Secret Theater?

Reply
Also Anonymous

It’s mind boggling to me how clueless some folks are. They prefer to snipe but do not come from the shadows to openly or positively participate in community affairs. It’s so easy to just throw any garbage at the wall a brain can cook up and see if it sticks.

We have a Council member who is totally involved, proactive, and dedicated. If you could pull your head out of your ass you would know that.

Reply
John

We should start a campaign to removed Van Bramer from power, that guy is destroying the spirit of LIC. Its just one guy, all his pal will follow. We DESPERATLY need fresh blood in the neighboard. LIC future is on this person hands and he doesn’t give a sh.iitt about anything. We need more theaters, more outdoor spaces, more wine bars, more artist and less realtors. LIC is in danger.

Reply
Shame

That’s because Van Bramer allocated a cool million to the Chocolate Factory, perhaps because the founder is on the Community Board.

He said, “Sorry, no money leftover for other local theatres, only for my pals!!”

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