Announcing the Piccione Arts Production Fund
Announcing the Piccione Arts Production Fund - dedicated to raising funds to sustain and expand ongoing productions in independent theatre, film & new media
A Message from Anthony J. Piccione:
When I moved to New York City in September 2016, I was fresh out of college with no industry connections or major playwriting credits to my name. From the start, I had one goal: having my plays produced in the greatest city in the world. Since then, technological changes have expanded the performing arts beyond my first love, live theatre, and I’ve ended up taking on more than I could have imagined! It’s been almost six years since I left Connecticut behind and I’m genuinely proud of all that I’ve been able to accomplish. Granted, the productions so far have been relatively low-budget, but most were funded by personal savings or, in the cases of my larger productions, by grassroots donations from the wonderful patrons and supporters of my works.
As of April 18, 2022, in partnership with Fractured Atlas, my production company will be accepting tax-deductible donations through the new fiscally-sponsored Piccione Arts Production Fund. Our goal is and be able to produce not just my stories, but the bold and creative stories of other voices who share my philosophy of what independent art is capable of. I will always be dedicated to bringing live theatre to New York audiences, but I hope to further expand into film and new media in the coming years, with the ultimate goal of creating a new live performance space for such artists in NYC by 2030. (We’ll see, you guys. lol) Modern audiences are capable of experiencing and appreciating a great story in more ways than one, and as times evolve, so should the artists who seek to challenge them.
Going forward, these are the five official guidelines of my production company. I expect to be held to these principles by colleagues and patrons alike, and I welcome that opportunity.
Exposing the Inherent Darkness Within Ourselves and Within Our Society
From mental health awareness to the disturbingly fascistic trajectory of American politics, I’ve sought to promote a wide range of causes that are close to my heart as both a writer and producer. I've always wanted to promote art - whether my own writing or the works of other artists - that are equal parts theatrical and didactic. In A Therapy Session with Myself, Alex Grayson reflected my school-aged self, with the intention of showing just how mentally painful adolescence can be for some neurodiverse people based on my first-hand experience. In One Empire, Under God, Damian Cunningham was written as both an allegory for what a president worse than Donald Trump could look like, as well as how susceptible young (predominantly) white men in rural America are to religious, right-wing propaganda. We need to be asking brutally honest questions about ourselves and about those around us if we’re ever going to have any hope of actually building back better from the dark times we’re living through in 2022. No matter the author, that is the kind of work I want to prioritize getting to the page, stage, and screen. Theatergoers already have several options for entertainment for entertainment’s sake, but I personally came to New York City with the goal of helping to provide an unapologetic alternative.
Promoting the Work of Fellow Independent and Neurodivergent Artists
When I first moved to NYC, it was with the intention of producing my own writing. I’ve come to realize that there are other roles that I can fill, distinct from my work as a playwright. With that in mind, I intend to spend the next several years promoting not just my work but, as much as possible, the work of like-minded artists with an emphasis on promoting the works of artists who are openly neurodiverse, who openly struggle with mental illness, and/or who create their work as independently from as much commercial or corporate influence as possible. That was my goal with my debut full-length play in 2019, with the Indie Art Today podcast, and with the Talking It Out Virtual Arts Festival. Going forward, it will also be the goal for the Neurodivergent Virtual Scriptwriting Academy - a new online educational initiative with a tentative Fall 2022 start - that will be aimed at nurturing and promoting the works of neurodiverse writers worldwide, with more details to be announced in August 2022.
Building a Foundation Where Marginalized Artists Can Build Solidarity and Understanding Amongst Each Other
In addition to future efforts to promote the aforementioned communities of artists, with the help of my production and literary associates, we will emphasize promoting and producing the works of writers from the BIPOC, LGBTQ+, female/female-identifying, international and/or neurodiverse and disabled communities, including the ongoing Talking It Out Virtual Arts Festival and newly announced Piccione Arts Streaming Collection. Furthermore, for EVERY live and virtual performance of a Piccione Arts production going forward, it is my goal to have 100% of our production staff (i.e., directors, stage managers, designers, etc.) belong to at least one of the aforementioned communities. Being a white, cisgender man, I realize there’s only so much I’ll ever be able to understand regarding the struggles of others, and therefore, there’s only so much I can offer from my own perspective. That said, I like to believe that my experience growing up neurodiverse during a time when some peers in school used the word “autistic” as if it were interchangeable with “retarded” gives me, if nothing else, at least some idea of what it’s like to feel misunderstood by others. As long as I still have a platform, I want to do a better job using it to foster dialogue, solidarity, and a better understanding amongst people of all different backgrounds.
Making Sure That Everyone Involved & Affected Reaps a Share of Any Rewards
For every future ticketed Piccione Arts event, between 30-80% of all profits will be distributed amongst the entire cast and production staff, while between 20-50% of the remaining proceeds will go to a non-profit organization that fights for the causes I seek to promote. This is in addition to any stipends paid to contractors in certain positions which will be funded with both grants and grassroots donations. By donating to the Piccione Arts production fund, you won’t just be helping us offset production costs. (i.e. higher stipends, extravagant sets, rehearsal space, marketing, etc.) You’ll also help ensure that the people involved in the creative process reap any rewards from box office success. I’m not a wealthy man, but I want to do what I can to make sure everyone who is involved in bringing a Piccione Arts production to life feels that their craft has value. In an industry corrupted by big money, I want to show that it is possible to create art that only belongs to the artists and to the audience members who support them.
Helping to Show the World What Makes Independent Theatre Distinct from Most Commercial Theatre
Finally, I want to help show the world that the performing arts - both in live theatre and in new media - can and should be about more than just Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, or the latest Broadway musical. As unique as live theatre might be, I’ve always believed that it is similar to other artistic mediums; it comes with a wide variety of colors and palettes for artists to choose from to make audiences laugh, cry, think, stay on the edge of their seat, or any combination of the four at once. I personally tend to gravitate toward disturbing the comfortable, so to speak, with my own writing. However, I’ve met, interviewed, and collaborated with many artists who have been able to use the same palettes as me to comfort the disturbed, as well. There’s a place for both approaches, but whether it’s through my own writing or the writing of others whose work I believe in, my number one goal as a producer will always be to send a message that experimentation and independence ought to be encouraged and celebrated everywhere. Until then, if nothing else, I want to show that the willingness to use various palettes to create art and tell stories is exactly what makes independent theatre distinct.
To anyone who likes any of what they’re hearing and want to contribute, you can visit the new Piccione Arts Production Fund at https://fundraising.fracturedatlas.org/piccione-arts-production-fund. My website will be updated regularly with all funds going directly to fund the budgets for future Piccione Arts productions. The names of our donors - unless otherwise requested - will appear and be thanked in future newsletters. We are seeking to raise a minimum of $1000 in grassroots donations by year’s end, as Fractured Atlas requires this before we can apply for larger grants. I know these are tough times, but if anyone is willing to spread the word, it would be greatly appreciated.
Also, if you haven’t already, please visit our site and consider becoming a paid subscriber to Piccione Arts. For only $5 a month – the price of a cup of coffee – patrons will receive access to additional content and benefits related to upcoming productions.
A Few Final Thoughts
I want the 2020s to be remembered as the decade when not only is neurodiversity accepted, but when neurodiverse thinkers and artists are wholeheartedly embraced and turned to for new and creative ways to adapt to and, ideally, move beyond the dark times we're living through, and guide us into a more hopeful future. We’re not there yet, but I’m holding out hope that someday, we can get there together.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a few words from the late Michael Brooks: “Be ruthless with systems, be kind to people.”