Wednesday, July 8, 2009

nytheatre.com Wins Microsoft Grant

Today I am thrilled to announce that The New York Theatre Experience, Inc. has won a significant grant from Microsoft Corporation and Techsoup. This is major recognition for our small nonprofit company and we have been amazed and humbled by the news since we first learned it about ten days ago. The official announcement is here.

This grant comes as a result of our winning the Show Your Impact competition sponsored by Microsoft and Techsoup. Hundreds of nonprofits entered this competition. Each was asked to demonstrate how the software they received from Microsoft (through their donation program with Techsoup) benefitted the community they serve. You can read what we wrote here.

In order to be a finalist for this competition, we needed to show support from our community--and you may recall that I asked for that a couple of times on this blog. Thanks to the fantastic enthusiastic indie theater community, we did make the finals. And thanks to the Microsoft and Techsoup judges--who found merit in our write-up and felt that indeed NYTE has used technology in ways that have had a positive impact on our constituencies--we are one of three prize winners.

We will be receiving a $5,000 cash grant from Microsoft, along with a donation of $25,000 worth of Microsoft software.

So first of all: major major thanks to everyone who reads the nytheatre i blog and took the time to vote for nytheatre.com's submission in this competition. Rochelle and I can't begin to tell you how much your support means to us, and how excited we are that our friends and colleagues in the indie theater community made this grant possible for us.

Shout-outs to folks who really went the distance to help us make it into finals: Nita Congress, Julie Congress, Elena K. Holy, Gus Schulenberg, Matt Freeman, John Clancy, Jon Stancato, the folks at NYITA, and others whom I may have inadvertently left off this list.

So, what does this Microsoft grant mean to NYTE and to the folks we serve?

Well, one of the things that really thrills me is what this grant represents for the indie theater movement. Here we have a giant corporation--Microsoft--choosing to recognize a small nonprofit company whose bailiwick is promoting and advocating for indie theater. If that's not a major act of validation, affirming the importance and impact of the incredible art created by the thousands of playwrights, actors, directors, producers, designers, etc. who are both the main contributors to and subjects of nytheatre.com--well, then I don't know what is.

The other two winners of the competition--a food bank in Cincinnati and a service organization that created an intelligence hub for nationwide disaster relief coordination--exemplify the kinds of nonprofits that I expected to receive these grants. I am immensely gratified to know that what we do--helping to make sure that the world knows about the work of indie theater artists--is viewed by objective outsiders as being as worthy a cause as these others.

So, my friends and colleagues in the indie theater world: pat yourselves on the back! This grant is recognition of the great work you do.

Which brings me to the most important part of this long, rambly essay: what will the grant mean to the readers and artists we serve on nytheatre.com?

The cash grant, obviously, is a real boon for NYTE, especially given the current economy. But the real impact to our community of this Microsoft grant will come from the new web features and services that we will be able to develop as a result of receiving all this software. I have only just started to plan out what we will be getting and, more importantly, what we will do with it. Over the coming weeks and months, the new infrastructure/development plans that this software grant will fuel will become clearer and I'll be sharing them as that happens. But I do want to mention some of my preliminary ideas with you now.

First, we'll be able to upgrade our data base system to the most current full-featured version available. We'll also be able to upgrade the "back-end" development software--the programs I use to track and manage all of the data that feeds our websites--to the most state-of-the-art versions. Together, these will result in a variety of new features and enhancements to nytheatre.com that I hope we will start to roll out as early as this fall.

Some of the software grant will be in the form of applications geared toward administrative tasks, such as budgeting and project management. If we can make use of up-to-date software solutions to become more productive in these areas, we will have more time to spend on developing nytheatre.com "stuff" that is directly beneficial to our readers and users.

We should be adding some new web development software to our existing "repertoire" that will make us more effective in creating "Web 2.0" applications on nytheatre.com and also in creating mobile applications.

And we're looking at communications and other server software that may help us transform our entire workflow concept, so that we can be more efficient and perhaps facilitate how we work with our volunteer contributors.

Rochelle and I are having a blast right now, indulging in some pie-in-the-sky dreaming about where this grant can take us in the next 12 months. We're researching ebook technologies, language translation technologies, and a whole new paradigm in managing/thinking about the data that supports all of our websites. This is feeling like the most transformational event for our organization since our first NYSCA grant in 2002.

And--because this recognition (and funding) comes from a source outside of our traditional funding community (outside New York, outside the theatre world)--it is immensely validating to our organization and to our mission.

7 comments:

lanstress said...

Congrats Martin & Rochelle. Well deserved!

Brenda said...

SO thrilled to hear it! A million congratulations. You do so much for the community here, and I'm glad you're being recognized in the broader world for it. Best, Brenda Foley (www.ceotheatre.org)

Noah Diamond said...

Richly deserved. Congratulations!

Melissa said...

This is so wonderful! Congratulations - well-deserved. Keep up the great - and important - work!

Best,
Melissa F. Moschitto
(www.theanthropologists.org)

Nan said...

Hearty congratulations from The Clancys. Cheers to Martin and Rochelle for winning a much deserved prize.

AlgonquinProd said...

Excellent news indeed! But surely they left a 0 off of that check. It should be $50,000!! But congrats.

Eric said...

yet to say how exciting and deserved this is. My favorite part is -- as you mention -- how they have put the arts alongside other forms of community involvement/community service. That William Carlos Williams quote about people dying every day for lack of what one might find in poetry? Something like that, yes? Been discussing w/ several company members and all excited. Way to go!