Sept. 8, 2014 By Christian Murray
It’s no longer going to be curtains for the Secret Theatre.
Last month, Richard Mazda, the founder of the off-off Broadway theater company, started an online fundraiser to keep the doors at his 44-02 23rd Street establishment open—after his organization’s finances were left in tatters after the Department of Building found that his landlord didn’t have an up-to-date certificate of occupancy.
Mazda launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $10,000 last month—and, despite a slow start, raised almost $11,000 by the time it was over on Sept. 4.
“The money will stop the rot and steady the ship,” Mazda said. However, he said he still plans to raise another $20,000 next year to give himself a cushion.
“I feel very lucky that so many people came to help,” Mazda said. “There were over 130 contributors.”
He said 40 percent of the donations came from local people who knew him or the theater; 25 percent from actors, musicians or the parents of children who he teaches; and the remainder from people who didn’t know him but just wanted to help out.
Mazda, however, did receive a couple of big donations—$1,000 from a local diner and another large sum from a well-known Court Square café. Both were listed as anonymous.
The Secret Theatre opened in 2007 and produces weekly children’s theater shows. It is also known for producing its own in-house shows as well as providing acting lessons.
Mazda, who is from England, said it’s taken him a while to learn how theater companies raise funds in New York. He said that he now plans to turn an arm of the theater company into a nonprofit.
Mazda also said that he plans to establish a small non-profit organization—to be called the Queens Theater Fund– that aims to bring the Queens theater community together, in order to promote one another.