By Joe Salas
Following a year-long search, Ars Nova has been selected by Greenwich House as its new partner and operator of the historic, 199-seat Greenwich House Theater located on the ground floor of Greenwich House’s 27 Barrow Street building. In addition to operating and filling the beloved venue with new work by its emerging artists, Ars Nova will work with Greenwich House on new community engagement and educational initiatives that will deepen the mission of both nonprofit organizations.
Ars Nova will occupy the Greenwich House Theater beginning in early 2019. The stage will become the primary venue for Ars Nova’s award-winning, Off-Broadway premiere productions. The move allows Ars Nova to expose its emerging artists to a growing audience base, increases the technical capabilities of its home theater to keep pace with the big dreams of its world premiere artists and fully dedicate its current theater on 54th Street to the discovery and development of new talent.
“Ars Nova is thrilled to have been selected to operate the Greenwich House Theater, which will become our new home base for our Off-Broadway premieres,” said Jason Eagan, the Founding Artistic Director of Ars Nova. “This will, in turn, stimulate our work of discovering and developing talent by freeing up space in our own jewel-box theater on 54th Street, where we will be able to increase our services to [the] artist community and expand…year-round programming. At the same time, this mission-driven partnership gives us an ideal platform to partner on arts education initiatives. Together, Ars Nova and Greenwich House can ensure that our resources are used to launch the careers of extraordinarily deserving early-career artists, as well as foster and develop arts appreciation and aspiration among the youngest of our next generation.”
“For over 100 years, Greenwich House has fostered community through the arts, and we’re excited to bring Ars Nova into the fold,” said Roy Leavitt, Executive Director of Greenwich House. “Not only does Ars Nova have a strong vision for the Greenwich House Theater, [it has] a track record of fostering new artists and creating diverse audiences. We’re looking forward to partnering with [Ars Nova] on new initiatives for theater lovers of all ages.”
Opened in 1917 as the Greenwich House Theater, Greenwich House’s Children Theater program occupied the space beginning in 1921. For over 65 years, under the leadership of children’s author and playwright Helen Murphy, the theater not only provided a constructive outlet for children of the area’s mostly Italian immigrant families, but its productions received widespread recognition. Beginning in the 1970s, a series of professional theater companies began operating in the space. The now-defunct Sanctuary Theatre, whose members included voice artist Rip Torn and film star Geraldine Page, began productions in 1979. In 1985, Soho Rep. moved in, followed by the nonprofit Drama Dept. in the 1990s. Since 2003, the theater has been occupied by the Barrow Street Theatre Company and is currently home to a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.