TITLE: Executive Director
FUNDING AREAS: Theater and dance
CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)
PROFILE: As executive director of The Shubert Foundation, Vicki Reiss oversees the nation's largest foundation providing unrestricted grants to the theater and dance communities. She reviews all grant applications and makes recommendations to the board, so you'll want to present a strong case for your organization. Shubert grants around $20 million each year to some 400 organizations, making it one of the largest funders in the performing arts.
The Shubert Foundation offers grants to established professional producing theater and dance companies for general operating support, rather than specific project funding, which differentiates Shubert from its peers. According to the foundation, nearly 73% of its funding goes to not-for-profit professional theaters and 14% goes to dance companies, all "with an emphasis on producing, rather than presenting, organizations." This means Shubert is giving right to the creative source.
Reiss took on the job of executive director in 1993, after serving as program director for five years. She also ran Shubert's tele-charge center as operations manager for four years in the early 1980s, so it's safe to say that if you have any questions about the organization, she's the expert to talk to. Prior to joining the foundation, Reiss spent four years as director of development at the Roundabout Theatre Company, one of New York's largest not-for-profit theaters.
Outside of New York, Reiss has also worked as a business manager, associate general manager, and box office manager at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Western Massachusetts, the Westport Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut, and Philadelphia's Annenberg Center. And she's paid all that real-world experience forward as an adjunct lecturer at Brooklyn College's MFA Performing Arts Management Program.
Reiss also is a regular speaker at events across the country, including those sponsored by Theatre Aspen, the Theatre Communications Group, and the Foundation Center, where she has spoken alongside other performing arts leaders on how to secure funding despite tight economic times.
Recent grantees that have received the green light from Reiss span the country. They include the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island. Of course, many major theater companies in New York City are also well-represented. Grants range from $10,000 to upwards of $150,000.
And if you know anything about theater, you know the foundation is of course connected to The Shubert Organization, which owns 17 Broadway theaters, one off-Broadway theater, and a theater in Philadelphia. For those wanting a bonus history lesson on how the foundation and its for-profit arm operate together in a unique partnership that got the stamp of approval from the IRS, here's a hidden gem courtesy of The New York Times.