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Broadway’s Jeff Whiting announces the creation of the Stage Door Foundation

The nonprofit will provide financial support to artists during the developmental process.

Jeff Whiting (Credit: Courtesy of Skollar PR)

Broadway director-choreographer Jeff Whiting has launched the Stage Door Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing funding to artists during the developmental stage of new works. The Foundation’s mission is to “secure and provide support to theatrical artists by providing access to professional mentorship, subsidized investments and a supportive network infrastructure that can ignite the innovation of art.”

The organization will focus its funding to three specific areas: rehearsal spaces, specific projects and individual artists. The foundation will subsidize the cost of hourly rehearsal rentals for a reduced rate $5 to $10 per hour, allowing artists to focus on creating their work. Artists and projects which demonstrate a commitment to the values of justice, equity, access and inclusion can qualify for the rentals.

In funding key steps in the development of a new work, called the “Show Accelerator,” the foundation will provide funding to specific projects each year. The funds can be used for rehearsal space, studio rentals for presentations and other production resources. For select projects, the foundation will also fully fund and produce industry readings and workshop presentations. These projects will receive ongoing mentorship and guidance from established industry professionals.

“The biggest financial barrier creative individuals face is finding the funding to present the creative work to industry professionals,” noted Whiting in an exclusive statement to Broadway News. “These kinds of readings and workshop presentations necessitate hard costs, which include space rental, fees for professionals, printing scripts/scores, equipment rental and more. The Stage Door Foundation’s goal is to lessen the financial burden of the creative journey, so that the Broadway industry can experience new works from artists who do not yet have the financial backing of large institutions or commercial producers.”

The current aim is for the “Show Accelerator” program to provide funding to five projects each year.

“We are certain that this number will grow each year with an influx of future private and corporate donations,” Whiting explained. “We are thrilled with the immense amount of interest and support we have already received from all corners of the industry.”

The Foundation will also provide grants and scholarships for individual artists each year.

Whiting, CEO of the midtown Manhattan rehearsal space Open Jar Studios, has several Broadway credits. Whiting served as assistant choreographer on 2007’s “Young Frankenstein” and associate director on the 2009 revival of “Hair.” He took on dual associate directing and choreographing duties for 2010’s “The Scottsboro Boys” and 2014’s “Bullets Over Broadway, in addition to serving as associate director and assistant choreographer on 2013’s “Big Fish.”

During his current tenure at Open Jar, Whiting witnessed the challenges and frustrations caused by lack of funding in early-career artists.

“There are so many new voices in the theater industry who deserve to be brought forward for consideration, and who might not have access to traditional funding sources,” added Whiting. “In my position here at Open Jar Studios, I see writing teams continually create great new art, and I have been very lucky to get to witness their work via self-funded readings or presentations. However, all too often, the creative process gets stuck due to a lack of funds to pay for the next steps. We hope that by providing space and resources, these promising new works can continue on their road to find both artistic and commercial success.”