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Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York and SeaChange partner to save NYC’s nonprofit theaters

Short-term bridge loans will be available for A.R.T./NY member organizations.

Strike Anywhere Ensemble performing at A.R.T./NY’s 50th anniversary house party (Credit: Isaiah Tannenbaum)

The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./NY) and grant-making nonprofit SeaChange Capital Partners have teamed up to form NYC Bridge Funding for the Arts (NYCBFA). The new program will provide short-term bridge loans for New York City-based nonprofit arts and culture institutions that are members of A.R.T./NY.

These six- to 12-month cash flow loans of up to $50,000 are intended to help cover short-term gaps at struggling organizations. SeaChange will manage the loans; both SeaChange and A.R.T./NY will contribute equally to lending funds.

A.R.T./NY has more than 520 member theaters, including Broadway nonprofits Lincoln Center Theater, Manhattan Theatre Club, Roundabout Theatre Company and Second Stage Theater. For 50 years, A.R.T./NY has worked to serve and strengthen the nonprofit theater community in and around New York City.

“Borrowing money is anxiety-provoking, especially for theaters whose collateral can be nontraditional,” A.R.T./NY co-executive director Risa Shoup recognized in a statement. “This program gives lendees a more intimate relationship with the lender — importantly, a nonprofit lender who has helped myriad organizations and understands the attendant anxieties. Lendees get a financial education, technical assistance and a thorough understanding of whether it’s a feasible decision to make.”

“It is especially important to A.R.T./NY that our members feel supported right now, especially while making challenging decisions related to financial health, both long-term and short-term,” added co-executive director Talia Corren. “With A.R.T./NY as the first point of contact, we understand the contours of what people are going through. SeaChange has a long track record of sustaining a healthy nonprofit sector and being deeply connected to social impact through financial literacy, so this partnership allows us to offer a transparent, informed assessment of when loans will be helpful. Had we not found such a values-aligned partner, we wouldn’t be launching this program.”

SeaChange provides grants, loans, analysis and advice to help nonprofits thrive. NYCBFA is SeaChange’s first fund for arts and culture. Organizations that apply for assistance through NYCBFA can expect hands-on assistance from SeaChange. “We start off by really trying to understand the situation, how they got there, how their board is navigating that challenge — and asking: Is a loan a good idea for them right now?” said Minji Kim, senior associate at SeaChange. “One of our core values is to do no harm, so we work closely with nonprofits to figure out a payment schedule or term that makes the most sense to them.”

NYCBFA is intended to create long-term, sustainable futures for A.R.T./NY member theaters.