In conversation with Nonprofit New York member: The Chocolate Factory Theater

In conversation with Nonprofit New York member: The Chocolate Factory Theater

Membership Director Taina Sanon spoke with Sheila Lewandowski of The Chocolate Factory Theater, a member organization of Nonprofit New York. Nonprofit New York will continue to highlight the work of our members, like The Chocolate Factory Theater, because we believe when your nonprofit is stronger, all of us are stronger.

Tell me about the organization and what you do.

The Chocolate Factory Theater exists to encourage and support performing artists in their process of inquiry. We engage with a community of artists who challenge themselves and, in doing so, challenge us. We believe that by supporting the labor of artists and the public presentation of their work, we contribute to elevating New York City as a thriving and more equitable wellspring of ideas.

We are an artist-run and led incubator for experimental performance, an artist service organization, a community anchor and place of pride; a voice in the City’s work to increase funding for and awareness of the power of the arts; and an international destination to see high-quality ground breaking performances outside of Manhattan.

Since our first season in 2005, The Chocolate Factory has grown from an artist-founded, volunteer operation to an internationally recognized incubator for experimental performance and an established presence among the local, national and international theater, dance and performance communities. Our works are regularly featured and reviewed by major local, regional, national and international media; have been awarded numerous OBIE and Bessie Awards; continue to tour widely; and, are almost always sold out. Artists who create work for The Chocolate Factory - notable recent examples include Big Dance Theater, David Neumann and Daniel Fish - also work in larger institutional / commercial settings (including Broadway) and have been nominated for Drama Desk and Tony awards, etc.

How many are on your team?

5 full time

Servicing how many of the nonprofit population?

Our artistic and community programs serve approximately 10,000 individuals each year. Where do you see your organization in the next five years or ten years? In 2017, The Chocolate Factory closed on the purchase of a new permanent facility in the Dutch Kills neighborhood of Long Island City. We are presently in the final phase of planning for the renovation of this facility, with a projected occupancy date of early 2022. Our new permanent home will enable us to significantly expand our services to artists and the local geographical community.

How has partnering with Nonprofit New York helped you succeed?

Since its founding in 2004, The Chocolate Factory has grown from a tiny all-volunteer operation to a mid-sized institution with five full time employees and a national/international reputation. Partnering with Nonprofit New York has helped us to plan for and manage our organizational growth in ways that feel sustainable and smart.

What are you currently working on that you want us to mention to our membership?

Our 2020 Season is underway. We have some great projects opening in the coming months including partnerships with Abrons Arts Center, Knockdown Center and Baryshnikov Arts Center; and a large scale outdoor performance by Norway-based artist Ingri Fiksdal, which will take place in Hunters Point South Park in April. And of course, the Annual Taste of LIC is coming up on June 10th!