The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Artistic production and compensation

Grant Information
Categories Arts
Location United States
Cycle Year 2020
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Ruskin Group Theatre
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Michael Myers
Phone 3104133618
3000 Airport Ave.
Santa Monica
Additional Information
Used for Ruskin Group Theatre will use any grant funding to support our artist base through this time of uncertainty by devising opportunities to work. In the immediate term, such opportunities will include virtual performances, interviews, and concerts - all free to our audiences. We anticipate being closed to live performances until spring/summer of 2021. When we do re-open to live performances in front of audiences, our costs of production will dramatically increase, including compensation for artists who will need to spend additional hours on the job adhering to health and safety protocols.
Benefits Any grant funds from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation will go directly to supporting working artists from the larger Los Angeles community, many of whom are currently struggling without steady work. Our productions employ a unique mix of polished stage and screen actors with up and coming actors who are finding their way in the world of theater and screen. The same holds true for the other artists of the stage, our designers, directors and writers. The average stage actor and/or artist makes less then minimum wage in a year in Los Angeles, and we strive to pay them fairly and keep them working on critically acclaimed productions of classics and world premiers.
Proposal Description As a small, non-profit in the Los Angeles area, the Ruskin Group Theatre has attracted regional attention and critical praise for its productions of both stage classics as well as world premiers. This year has been unlike any other, in that we are a live performance venue that now exists in an atmosphere that cannot sustain any live performances. We have striven to keep contact with our audience through the distribution of several virtual performances, as well as artist talk-backs and open forums. Even these productions have costs however; and as we strive to piece together the funds to keep our lease and pay our monthly bills, we also need to maintain a presence with our audience, and a place to create for our artists. We need to be able to pay our artists both as they help us find alternative ways to perform as well as when we are live again and they will be spending additional hours in rehearsal and preparation, given health and safety codes that will have to be followed. Such codes will include limits on numbers of people in rehearsals, craftspeople on set, crew on grounds, etc.; all of which will extend production time and hourly costs. In the past year (before the Covid pandemic), we produced two smash hits with the Rob Morrow led classic tragedy, "Death Of A Salesman" and the Orson Bean helmed world premiere of Steve Mazur's "Bad Habits". "Salesman" ran for twelve weeks of sold out performances and "Bad Habits" for ten. Though both productions received critical praise and their stars enjoyed exposes in the LA Times and on local news stations, both productions also employed large casts and artistic crews who are not well-known. These actors and artists worked their crafts in front of thousands of people and were exposed to their peers at the highest of levels. We had just completed our world premiere of "Bad Habits" before the pandemic hit, and sadly, we lost Orson Bean to a tragic accident just as the community was going into quarenteen, but in his final performance, he expressed how happy and gratified he was to be back on stage, engaging with an audience and playing with "the kids", as he called the younger actors. The benefit our cast of nine gained from his company and tutelage is incalcuable. The benefit to the community for his, and their, performances was measurable by the joy expressed after each performance. Equally, audiences leaving "Death Of A Salesman" expressed deep emotion and gratitude for telling the story so well. Tony Bill, producer of "The Sting" and director of "My Bodyguard" and "Untamed Heart" said it was the most effective, most deeply moving production of the classic he'd ever seen. Our audience is made up of mostly West Los Angeles residents, but we also draw from the wider region of Southern California. Several of our original productions have gone on to other venues and continue to add to the catalogue of great American plays.