Under St. Marks’ Resident Company Gets New Lease on Live Theater

10/07/2011 3:32 PM |

The basement of 94 St. Marks Place will remain a theater.
  • The basement of 94 St. Mark’s Place will remain a theater.

Back in March news that Under St. Marks, the tiny basement 45-seat theater at 94 St. Mark’s Place might be sold, along with the whole building, and consequently cease to be a pillar of the Downtown theater scene caused the resident company Horse Trade Theater Group to launch a capital campaign to raise the $5.75 million to buy the building and ensure the performance space’s survival. While that remains the long-term plan, Horse Trade just secured the venue’s short-term viability by signing a seven-year lease on the space.

In an announcement this morning the company said that it inked the deal with its landlord on Wednesday. In a press release, Horse Trade Theater Group artistic director Heidi Grumelot wrote:

We are so happy and relieved to have come to this agreement so that Under St Marks can continue to be used by the artistic community of New York for experimentation, collaboration, and avant guarde performance. We doubt that any other basement in this city enjoys as much continual creative activity as Under St. Marks. Ultimately we hope to safe guard USM so that we no longer need to focus on preserving the space for our artists, but can instead focus on producing and promoting the work of our artists.

Shedding more light on the financial terms of the lease extension, and ongoing plans to purchase the building, the theater company’s managing director Erez Ziv explained:

The monies raised through our fundraising campaign this summer have helped us to provide for a modest signing bonus and to offset the small rent increase over the next few years. We have not given up on the dream of owning our own space and are currently in discussions with our landlord to figure out a way to make this a reality.

An important part of the Off-Off Broadway theater community since the 1960s, Under St. Marks’ safeguarding marks a major victory for the East Village’s enduring experimental performance scene.