|Address||161A Chrystie Street
New York City
Dixon Place is a theater organization located in New York City dedicated to the development of works-in-progess from a broad range of performers and artists. It exists to serve the creative needs of artists—emerging, mid-career and established—who are creating new work in theater, dance, music, literature, puppetry, performance, variety and visual arts.
Many well-known artists, including Ivy Baldwin, Blue Man Group, Laura Peterson, Monica Bill Barnes, John Leguizamo, Lisa Kron, David Cale, Jane Comfort, Risa Jaroslow, Penny Arcade, Katy Pyle, Peggy Shaw, Douglas Dunn, Deb Margolin and Reno, began their careers at Dixon Place.
Dixon Place offers 14 shows a week, 7–8 commissions a year, and more than 20 different programs across artistic disciplines, featuring work by more than 1,500 emerging and established artists each year. All artists presenting work in Dixon Place’s main-stage programs receive compensation, from work-in-progress showings to artists-in-residence and commissioned artists.
Dixon Place was founded in 1985 by Artistic Director Ellie Covan. After starting Dixon Place as a salon in her Paris apartment in the summer of 1985, Covan re-launched the endeavor in her East Village living room the following year. Her apartment was half of a storefront; she set up folding chairs for audiences and sold drinks and snacks to defray her expenses. After 5 years at the East Village location, Dixon Place needed to expand. In order to accommodate a growing audience, Dixon Place moved to a larger space on the Bowery in 1991. The loft also served as living space for Covan. Expanded programming, along with an increased staff and audience, prompted another move in 1999, when Dixon Place became the resident company at the Vineyard Theater’s 26th Street space. Success in this professional environment led to the decision to secure a permanent home. In 2002, in partnership with a dedicated Board and a forward-thinking developer, Dixon Place purchased an industrial space on Chrystie Street in Lower Manhattan. After a 6-year capital project, Dixon Place's state-of-the-art laboratory theater and lounge, featuring expanded amenities for artists and audiences and new earned income for Dixon Place, had its Grand Opening in December 2009.
In addition to a professional laboratory theater, the new space, designed by Meyer + Gifford Architects, includes numerous artist amenities The main-stage theater has column-free width for performance, as well as a sprung masonite floor, high ceilings, rigging points for aerial work, and state-of-the-art technical equipment. There is a separate rehearsal studio with a sprung marmoleum floor, and the spacious dressing room includes a private artist’s restroom and shower.
Dixon Place also includes a welcoming lounge. Set up as a for-profit subsidiary with a full liquor license, it is a new business model that subsidizes the theater's artistic programs. The lounge includes a gallery and a smaller stage that provides additional artistic outlets and day-time community space for educational programs and a meeting place for other organizations.
All of Dixon Place's programs have been developed out of a specific need that was not being met elsewhere.
In 1994, Dixon Place began the Mondo Cane! Commissioning Program that supports 8 theater, dance and music creators annually by providing them with 1–3 months of workshop time, followed by 1–4 weeks of world premiere full-scale production performances. Mondo Cane! has offered commissions to such artists as The Civilians, The Debate Society and Sibyl Kempson. In 2015, Dixon Place will present world premiere commissions by James Godwin, Mark Dendy, Marga Gomez, Raja Feather Kelly, Victor Morales, ANIMALS, and Jessica Almasy.
Dixon Place offers over 20 year-round, curated programs:
- Mondo Cane! Commissioning Program – theater, music, and dance commissions; 7–8 per year.
- Artists-in-Residence – 3–4 month residencies for emerging artists/ensembles; 3 per year.
- Performance Works-In-Progress – new, developing work by theater, dance, music, and performance artists; ongoing.
- Puppet Blok- new puppetry, mask, animation and other alternative forms; ongoing.
- Carousel – a wide array of comic strip makers, graphic novelists, visual artists and luminaries presenting new work; 4–5 per year.
- Little Theatre – OBIE award—winning series that presents experimental theater, performance art, music and dance; 10 per year.
- Bindlestiff Open Stage Variety Show – an uncompromising theatrical experience that includes aerial artists, wire walkers, sword swallowers, Kung Fu juggling, clown bands, trained rats, and more; 10 per year.
- No Holds Barred – a magical night featuring gifted professional and student aerial, circus, theater and dance artists, 3–6 per year.
- Crossing Boundaries – choreographers who cross cultural, geographical and disciplinary boundaries; 5–6 per year.
- Under Exposed – emerging choreographers, 6–8 per year.
- Brink – a platform for innovative and investigatory choreographers to show longer, more developed works in progress; 5–6 per year.
- Moving Men – choreography by both male and female choreographers working with only male dancers, 2–3 per year.
- NYC10 – a monthly dance project that gives 10 emerging dance companies up to 10 minutes to showcase their work; 5–6 per year.
- Gershwin Live at Dixon Place – an evolving 21st century salon, artists with fearless and distinctive voices are given free rein to present theater, film, cabaret, ghost stories, music and uncategorizable hybrids; monthly.
- Experiments & Disorders – fiction, nonfiction, poetry and performance texts by adventurous, cross-genre, established and emerging writers; 6–8 per year.
- QT – a quarterly literary series exploring the rich lives of LGBTQ writers; 3 per year.
- Communitas – this literary series brings together writers, authors, readers, storytellers, and audiences from the many communities of New York City and beyond to showcase what’s next for the city; 3 per year.
- Secret City – part revival, part salon, part spectacle, this ‘service’ features performance, visual art, music, food, and literature, designed to inspire, invigorate and amaze vibrant and creative communities of New York City; monthly.
- Lounge Music– free, acoustic music of all genres; 4–6 nights per week.
- The Gallery – rotating solo and group exhibitions with an emphasis on showcasing work by NYC-based artists.
- HOT! The NYC Celebration of Queer Culture – annual summer festival featuring GLBTQ works from across genres, for 23 years and counting.
- Murrin Award (“Tommies”) – The Tom Murrin Performance Award is an annual award selected by a panel of artistic directors and producers granted to an emerging artist who embodies Tom’s generous artistic spirit &and gift for unearthing big, meaningful ideas by creating enlightening performance. First awarded in 2013 to ANIMALS (Nikki Calonge, Michael De Angelis and Mike Mikos) and in 2014 to Andrew Schneider.
Community Outreach (CECO)
Begun in 2000, the Cultural Education & Community Outreach Program (CECO) provides rare artistic opportunities for culturally under-served senior citizens and youth living in Lower Manhattan, at no cost to the participants. CECO has brought theater, writing, dance and film/video workshops to local youth in collaboration with such partners as Urban Arts Partnership, New Design High School, University Settlement, Tompkins Square Middle School and The School for Global Leaders; and to senior citizens, collaborating with Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), Sirovich Senior Center and Bowery Residents Committee (BRC) Senior Center-Chinatown. With this program, Dixon Place has reached beyond the artist community to include the voices of low-to-moderate income young and elderly neighbors. The free workshops focus on performing, writing, movement, and music, culminating in public performances. This program enables the participants to experience artistic expression, discover their creative voices, develop their own theatrical works and perform in front of supportive audiences.
- 1989: Covan was given a New York Dance and Performance Award—–a "Bessie"—–for service to the community.
- 1998: Dixon Place received the City University of New York’s Edwin Booth Award for excellence in theater.
- 1999: Covan was awarded The Voice’s Ross Wetzsteon Award for contributions to the community.
- 2002: Covan received the Brooklyn Arts Exchange BAXten Award for paving the way for others through arts administration.
- 2004: Dixon Place was awarded the Alliance of New York State Arts Organization’s Celebrate the Arts Award for outstanding contributions to the state of New York.
- 2010: The organization was given the Stewardship Award by the New York Innovative Theater Foundation.
Sources of funding
Private and Corporate Support for Dixon Place is provided by: Axe-Houghton Foundation, Bernstein Family Foundation, New York Department of Cultural Affairs, Doris Duke Foundation, Harkness Foundation for Dance, The Jim Henson Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Jerome Robbins Foundation, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, The Peg Santvoord Foundation, The Shubert Foundation.
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