Gene Frankel Theatre 24 Bond Arts Center Covid-19

In 2001, I walked into the Gene Frankel Theatre  for a job interview with Gene Frankel himself. I was applying to be his assistant. As I entered the stage, there sat a small-framed, confident man with white hair and beard. He looked like a New York character in every regard. 

When I sat down across from him he looked at me with his intense dark eyes and didn’t ask for my credentials. Instead he asked only one philosophical question: “Do you want to be an artist or have to be an artist?” I looked at him trying to be equally as confident, but nervous. I said, “Mr. Frankel, I was born an artist; I have to be one.”  Luckily, I answered correctly. He said “Can you start tomorrow?” He didn’t ask me if I had theater experience. He needed to know instinctively if I was a true artist, because he knew he could teach me about theatre... and Gene loved to teach.

I tell you this because  the doors of the Gene Frankel Theatre have remained open for more than 70 years—because we have to. There is no pondering of this thought. There is a need.
Gene’s most important work as a director was The Blacks: A Clown Show, by the French existentialist, Jean Genet (1955). This play was groundbreaking with its all black cast opening in 1961, right before the civil rights movement. The Blacks was a success; the longest running Off Broadway play of that decade. It featured artists like James Earl Jones, Maya Angelou, Cicely Tyson, Roscoe Lee Brown and more. The casting was historical and the start of these young actors careers. 
Gene as a director was attracted to highly sociopolitical plays such as Lorraine Hansberry’s To be Young Gifted and Black featuring Cicely Tyson and Indians by Arthur Kopit, which demythologizing the contradictions behind the history of cowboys and Indians. 
Gene, who had taken me under his wing changed my life. He taught me that we do it together. That community was important. 

We are artists. Right now we are on the dividing line between the want-to and the have-to. We have a responsibility. Small theatres are where the seed of creativity is planted. 

This small theatre is the sustenance for larger venues, for film, and television. Here is where artists find the nourishment to create, to be the tellers of the story…to give life depth and meaning. 

Art’s importance is that it brings people together to wrestle with big questions, to understand the human condition, to expand the audiences’ worldview. Yet right now, in the year 2020, because of Covid-19, we need to restructure our theatre to make it safe for you to return…to bring people together. 

One of the remedies is rather simple: we need an HVAC air purification system with air conditioning for both of our floors. We have already fundraised the first $10,000 needed to do this, but are short of a second payment of $10,000 required to hire our air-purification expert. Please, understand that because of major cutbacks there is no government funding at this time. So we are turning to you for help. We can’t do it alone.

Please, find a way to help us with a tax-deductible donation. We have made it incredibly simple for you by using GoFundMe.

On behalf of all of us at the Gene Frankel Theatre for helping us safely reopen the Gene Frankel Theatre,

 Gail Thacker

Thank you,

Gail Thacker
Thomas R Gordon

Donations (36)

  • Anonymous
    • $5 
    • 1 yr
  • Anonymous
    • $100 
    • 3 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $30 
    • 3 yrs
  • Cordelia Persen
    • $100 
    • 3 yrs


Gail Thacker
New York, NY
24 Bond Arts Center Inc
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily.

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about.

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the  GoFundMe Giving Guarantee.