54 Below to Transition to Nonprofit Status

Since its official opening night on June 5, 2012, 54 Below has presented more than 6,000 performances, playing to more than half a million audience members.

By: Apr. 18, 2023
54 Below to Transition to Nonprofit Status

54 Below, the celebrated Times Square cabaret venue has transitioned to nonprofit status. This shift to a 501(c)(3), after over a decade in commercial operation, will allow 54 Below to continue to celebrate Broadway, support new and emerging artists, launch new initiatives, and ensure sustainability for the club, known as "Broadway's Living Room," in an ever-changing and ever-challenging industry.

Since its official opening night on June 5, 2012, headlined by Patti LuPone, the intimate cabaret club has presented more than 6,000 performances, playing to more than half a million audience members.

The newly formed Board for 54 Below initially includes Chairman of the Board Tom Viertel; President Steven Baruch; Managing Director Richard Frankel; Brenda Braxton, Actress, Entrepreneur; Robert L. Dilenschneider, President and CEO, The Dilenschneider Group, Inc.; Ken Greiner, Businessman, Board Chairman of The Vineyard Theater; Debby Landesman, Philanthropic Advisor; Stanley Richards, Deputy CEO, The Fortune Society, Inc.; and Lucille Werlinich, Chair of Purchase College Foundation.

"We first imagined 54 Below over 10 years ago as a supper club situated in the Broadway district - there weren't many on the west side at that time - that celebrated the entirety of the Broadway ecosystem - the performers, composers, lyricists and audiences- that would give artists the opportunity to perform new work and beloved classics in an atmosphere of warmth and style," said Managing Director Richard Frankel. "We're proud that 54 Below has become 'Broadway's Living Room' and of our recently received Special Tony Honor."

"Looking to the next 10 years and beyond, we want to ensure that 54 Below can continue to thrive artistically and can fulfill our evolving ambitions for the future, which include growing opportunities for diverse communities of emerging and established artists to expand their audiences," continued Frankel. "We want to further our dedication to new performers and new work, to address the challenges of high-ticket prices and sometimes inadequate artist compensation and to sharing our resources and knowledge through education and training programs. As economic realities grow ever more challenging, we look forward to raising the funds necessary to make steady, incremental progress - it will take a while - to fulfill these ambitions and to stabilize our future so that we can continue to celebrate and expand the art of cabaret for years to come."

Many artists call 54 Below "their artistic home." In addition to Ms. LuPone, a sampling of the thousands of Broadway performers, theatre writers, and cabaret icons who have performed their own shows on the 54 Below stage:

Annaleigh Ashford, Laura Benanti, Jason Robert Brown, Norbert Leo Butz, Ann Hampton Callaway, Liz Callaway, Kirsten Childs, Jenn Colella, Barbara Cook, Carole Cook, Lilli Cooper, Jason Danieley, Ariana DeBose, André DeShields, Christine Ebersole, Linda Eder, Michael Feinstein, Fyvush Finkel, Amanda Green, Adam Gwon, Jennifer Holliday, Joe Iconis, James Monroe Iglehart, Michael R. Jackson, Brian d'Arcy James, Jeremy Jordan, Tom Kitt, Norm Lewis, Rebecca Luker, Toby Marlow & Lucy Moss, Mauricio Martínez, Marilyn Maye, Marin Mazzie, Lindsay Mendez, Bonnie Milligan, Tim Minchin, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Liliane Montevecchi, Matthew Morrison, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelli O'Hara, Helen Park, Ben Platt, Chita Rivera, Lea Salonga, Phillipa Soo, Georgia Stitt, Aaron Tveit, Lillias White, Vanessa Williams, David Yazbek, and many more.

Along with the above solo concerts and specific artists, 54 Below has presented thousands of other shows.

These have included both headliners and emerging artists, celebrations of theatre history from The Broadhurst Theatre at 100! to The Jonathan Larson Project, new writers from Murphy Taylor & Emerson Mae Smith to Rona Siddiqui, established writers, holiday cabarets from The Joe Iconis Christmas Extravaganza to 54 Celebrates Hanukkah: A Festival of Writers, new musicals in concert from A Strange Loop (in 2016) to We Start in Manhattan, classic musicals in concert from Mame to Baby, reunion concerts from Little Shop of Horrors to Legs Diamond, celebrations of pop music artists and artists of other music genres from 54 Sings Lizzo to 54 Sings Dolly Parton, series including The Broadway Princess Party, 54 Sings Broadway's Greatest Hit Songs, Turn The Beat Around: 54 Below Celebrates Studio 54, Make Them Hear You: An Ode To Black Musicals, 54/ 54/ 54, Sondheim Unplugged, and more.

To begin its new incarnation as a nonprofit, 54 Below will be launching several new initiatives this year - initially on a limited basis until funds allow further expansion - in the areas of Ticket Subsidies, Artist Subsidies and a Live Streaming Initiative. As progress is made in raising the necessary funds, these programs will be expanded, and new initiatives will be added.

Ticket Subsidy Initiative

54 Below has been and remains committed to opening its doors to an economically diverse audience of all ages and backgrounds. The Ticket Subsidy Initiative will raise funds necessary to provide discounted tickets to the public and will seek funding to launch a new program of offering discounted tickets to audience members under 35 years of age. Details of number of tickets, prices, and manner of distribution will be announced soon but beginning in June, a pilot project will offer these subsidized tickets for a select number of shows. Tickets will be released one week prior to each performance and will be available for purchase online.

The intention is to expand this program over time so that eventually, ten $15 tickets will be made available to every one of the 600 performances presented annually at 54 Below.

Artist Subsidy Initiative

The Artist Subsidy Initiative will seek to provide artists, including many who normally cannot afford to fund the basic production costs necessary to mount a production, with the means to address issues such as adequate artist compensation, rehearsal space rentals, music preparation materials and other costs involved in the creation of performances. Beginning in Fall 2023, on a limited basis and expanding as funds are raised, artists will be invited to apply for a $500 grant for a specific show through a simple application process. Artists will be selected by a committee, which will consider a variety of criteria including financial need, career implications, subject matter instrumentation, and originality. The committee will not be bound by any special directive from the 54 Below Programming or Management staff. Through the Artist Subsidy Initiative, 54 Below will seek to provide artists with additional resources, creating opportunities for artists who may not typically be able to perform at 54 Below.

Live Streaming Initiative

Since 2020, 54 Below has significantly expanded their reach and accessibility by offering streams of live performances. Through state-of-the-art, remote-controlled cameras, audio equipment and software, they have made over 180 performances available to over 20,000 fans across the globe. This program will help cover the costs associated with streaming, providing more artists with the opportunity to reach audiences at home.

More About 54 Below

54 Below presents over 600 shows each year and has become an indispensable member of the Broadway ecosystem. It was founded in June 2012 by Richard Frankel, Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch and Marc Routh as a place for the Broadway community to celebrate Broadway performers, both established and new, who sing not only the music of Broadway and the Great American Songbook, but also new material intended for Broadway and off-Broadway stages. The club features fine dining and superb scenic, lighting, and sound designs entirely imagined by Broadway designers. For performers, writers, musicians, and more, 54 Below gives opportunities to advance their craft, expand their repertoires, and develop their voices in a way that is more personal, making them stronger as artists. It gives Broadway fans an opportunity to see their favorite artists in a different way, deepening their relationship and understanding of their talent.

Located at 254 West 54th Street, the supper club presents live shows at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm nightly. For more information or to support 54 Below, please visit Click Here.


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