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The Secret Theatre launches fundraiser to keep its doors open

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Dec. 30, 2015 By Michael Florio

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-off Broadway theater at 44-02 23rd Street, has launched an Indiegogo campaign with the aim raising $15,000.

If the campaign reaches its goal, the theater will be able to remain open throughout 2016, Mazda said.

“We cannot survive with just the money we make from ticket sales,” he said, since the profit margins are so thin.

Mazda said the theater needs to raise at least $10,000 in order to keep the doors open.

“If we get to $10,000 we should be able to make it work,” he said. “We need to raise this money by the end of January or we are out.”

The campaign has raised $1,100 since it was launched two weeks ago.

Mazda added that over the years his landlord has been very patient with him, but he said he was concerned that his landlord’s patience might soon run out.

However, with the increasing cost of rent in Long Island City, it has become harder for the theater to remain viable.

“With the increased costs we make less now than we did three years ago,” Mazda said.

Mazda originally had two theatres at the location but had to close the smaller 50-seat theater in June in an attempt to cut costs.

“We have already shrunk and now are at danger of shutting down,” Mazda said.

The Secret Theatre, which opened in 2007, offers children’s shows, musicals, and dramas.

It is considered off-off Broadway as the theater can only seat up to 99 people per show.  Since it is deemed off-off- Broadway, Mazda said he is not allowed to charge more than $18 per ticket.

With this constraint, the theater often comes away making just enough money to cover production costs.

“After rent, utilities, and other production costs, we break even,” he said.

Mazda is concerned what its closing might means for the local arts community.

The theater is the host of the Queensboro Dance Festival and a slew of other Queens-based cultural events.

Mazda is also the founder of the LIC Arts Open, a five-day festival that showcases an array of exhibits and events across Long Island City.

“I don’t know what would happen if we were to close down,” he said.

The Chain Theatre, another independent venue in Long Island City, will close its doors in February after its landlord sold the building to developers looking to build condos on the site. It has conducted a fundraiser so it can relocate to a new site.

Those interesting in donating to the Secret Theater should click here.

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