As of February 24, we have 300 backers with 4 days left in our campaign. This is amazing and wonderful. But it's not over yet. Yesterday, Carl & Laurie Rogers generously matched all pledges up to $500 - and we made that goal.
Today, our friend and Trustee Chris Ajemian has offered to match that match...meaning all pledges today up to $500 will be matched!
We reached our goal with 10 days to spare! Wow! This is incredibly heartening, and helpful, and necessary. So I'll say what I've been saying every day, for the millionth time. I'm grateful.
Now, with 10 days left in our campaign, I believe we can reach a stretch goal of $40k.
Why is this important? It's important because: the more we raise now, the sooner we can get started. While the bureaucratic wheels are turning, we can tackle some of the important pre-construction tasks - design fees, environmental inspections & certifications, permit filings...the sooner we start construction, the sooner we finish, and the sooner we can share this building with our artist community and the world at large.
Kickstarter pledges for this project are tax deductible!
On July 20, 2017, The Chocolate Factory purchased a very old, very dirty, and very beautiful former machine shop in Long Island City, Queens for $3.8 million. This was a huge and important accomplishment for us. We are now seeking funds to complete the renovation of this very raw factory space into a safe, clean, unique and permanent venue for the performing arts.
Thanks to the support of NYC Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, and after ten years of preparation and hard work, we now own this facility outright, with no debt. But we must secure funding for the building renovations on our own.
We need your support to make this happen!
The 7,500 square foot industrial facility, located at 38-29 24th Street in the Dutch Kills neighborhood of LIC, will be home to all of The Chocolate Factory’s residency and performance activity. More than tripling our current square footage, but retaining the unique industrial character of our current building, the new Chocolate Factory Theater will offer a larger and taller performance space with a sprung wood dance floor, a dedicated space for rehearsal, proper artist dressing rooms and offices, and space for a variety of community activities.
Architectural drawings (by Angel Ayon) and construction estimates (by TNT Industries) are ready to go; all we need are funds to get to work! We have received lead capital funding from the Howard Gilman Foundation, LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, and New York State Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan; but we need the support of you, our community, to get us to the finish line.
We Lose Our Current Building in 2019
Since openings its doors in 2005, The Chocolate Factory has occupied a rented facility at 5-49 49th Avenue in LIC, Queens. Our lease ends in June 2019 with no chance of renewal - hence the drive to purchase this new permanent space.
The acquisition of a new permanent facility for live performance in New York City is a major accomplishment. The new Chocolate Factory venue will be the first major project of its kind to be built in Queens in at least 40 years; and will enable our organization to continue its work for many years to come, free from the pressures of the volatile NYC real estate market. The Chocolate Factory was founded in Western Queens; and we are deeply proud and excited to know that we can stay in the neighborhood we live in and helped to build, for many years to come.
Since its first season in 2005, The Chocolate Factory Theater has supported the development and presentation of new work by a community of local, national and international artists working in dance, theater, and interdisciplinary performance. The Chocolate Factory’s programs have drawn many thousands of new visitors to Long Island City; have supported the work of hundreds of early and mid-career artists; have received numerous Bessie and Obie Awards; have toured nationally and internationally; and have made a sizable impact on the local, national and international performing arts communities.
The Chocolate Factory has supported the work of hundreds of early and mid-career artists. Recent highlights (to name just a few) include Beth Gill's Electric Midwife (Bessie Award); David Neumann's I Understand Everything Better (Obie and Bessie Awards); Big Dance Theater's Ich, Kurbisgeist; and Mac Wellman's Muazzez.
We are deeply embedded in our local community, supporting a wide range of civic activities including the annual LIC Halloween Parade, planting and caring for trees, working with the local Girl Scouts, and producing the annual Taste of LIC.
We have received significant commitments for support from the Howard Gilman Foundation, LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, and New York State Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan; and we have several pending commitments which will be announced soon. But we NEED YOUR SUPPORT to make this happen.
Pledge $10 or more: Your Name On Our Website
Name on our website Your name on our Kickstarter Thank You page on our website.
Pledge $50 or more: Toast The New Building
Join us for a party on Saturday March 3rd to toast the new building in its amazing raw state. We will add your name to our Kickstarter Backer poster to hang in the current Chocolate Factory Theater and be displayed for the first season in the new space.
Pledge $100 or more: T-Shirt
A new limited addition t-shirt.
Pledge $150 or More: Printed Photo of Performance
Printed Photo of a Performance Your choice of 1 of 5 8x10 photos from seminal TCF productions over the years.
Pledge $250 or More: New Building Photo
Photo of The New Building A limited edition photo (unframed) of the new building in its rare state.
Pledge $500 or More: Claudia La Rocco e-book
Claudia La Rocco's novel petit cadeau was published in performance form by The Chocolate Factory in December 2014. Until now, it has existed as a print edition of one. In Spring 2018, we will publish the novel as a kindle e-book.
Pledge $500 or More: Limited Edition Vinyl LP by Kohji Setoh
A transparent blue LP featuring Kohji Setoh‘s sound composition for Piece with gaps for each other, commissioned from Ursula Eagly as a part of The Chocolate Factory’s 2016-2017 season. The record is released by the Japanese label ROOT CULTURE in an individually numbered, limited edition of 250, gorgeously packaged with a graphic performance score on the inner sleeve and an insert with texts by artists Ursula Eagly, Martin Lanz Landazuri, and Kohji Setoh.
Setoh’s music traces the work’s course from phenomenological to fantastical, material to theatrical, and back. Side A plays The Chocolate Factory’s architecture for complex polyrhythm. Side B fishes the depths for bass, then lifts off and disintigrates somewhere in the Milky Way.
Pledge $1,000 or More: Private Screening of Screamers
Screamers is a feature film by Chocolate Factory Artistic Director Brian Rogers, premiering in 2018. Enjoy a private pre-premier screening of the film the current Chocolate Factory Theater. With popcorn and more! For you and up to 10 of your friends.
Pledge $1,000 or more: Civics Day With Sheila
Join Sheila for a day of civic engagement. Accompany her to meetings around the city advocating for the arts to our representatives. This day is designed for a young person 10-18 years old. 4 "slots" are available, schedule will need to coordinated between participants.
Pledge $5,000 or more: Garden Party Plus Catering
Garden Party in Sheila's magical garden with catering by Bartleby & Sage for up to 10 people (plus Sheila). Join Sheila for a lovely night just down the street from The Chocolate Factory. Step out of the city and into a little bit of calm.
Risks and challenges
The acquisition, renovation and maintenance of a 7,500 square foot industrial building is a daunting task under the best of circumstances. As a small organization with a full time staff of three, we are particularly aware of the risks and challenges ahead.
The Chocolate Factory's founding directors - Sheila Lewandowski and Brian Rogers - have spent more than a decade preparing for this moment. We have managed our current building successfully since 2004; we understand the costs and the work that goes into taking care of an old building.
Though our new building is 3x larger, and therefore will be costlier to maintain, we will be saving more than $50k per year in rent. We have detailed cost projections and the experience to back them up. We have completed long term strategic planning and know that the best and only way for our work to survive is to own our own permanent facility. It took more than a decade to find the right facility, to secure the $3.8 million it took to buy the place, and to make the deal happen. And here we are!
The biggest challenge for the NYC performing arts community is lack of space - space in which to create and perform our work. Spaces for experimental art are disappearing at a dangerous rate. A new and permanent Chocolate Factory Theater will help to stem the tide, and to ensure that risk taking artists have a home for decades to come.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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