Thomas F. Leahy, president of the Theatre Development Fund for the past five years, has announced he will not seek reelection in November. He is only the third president in TDF's history.
TDF has many audience-building functions, but is perhaps best known for administering the TKTS discount ticket booths in Manhattan.
Leahy joined TDF in 1992 after 32 years of entertainment experience at CBS television. He was honored by TDF at its 82nd annual luncheon, Nov. 1995, at the Marriott Marquis grand ballroom. At the luncheon, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Leahy had, "an understanding of the pulse of the city." He also attributed Leahy's success to being a fellow "Jasper" -- that is, a graduate of Manhattan College.
Leahy was instrumental in creating TDF's Education Department, which has brought thousands of kids to Broadway.
"It's been a wonderful, exciting period in my life," Leahy said in a prepared statement. "I enjoy deeply my associations with the theatrical community and am proud to have many of its members as my personal friends... I will maintain my interest and presence in the community and continue to serve on the President's Council of TDF." The recently-formed Council helped establish the idea for the first Kids Night On Broadway, which was later brought to fruition in cooperation with the League of American Theatres & Producers. He said he intends to announce his future plans "later this year."
Founded in 1968, Theatre Development Fund has as its mission the support of new productions and broadening of audiences bases for commercial theatre. It is now the largest not-for-profit, performing arts service organization in the U.S. Its best-known program is the world-famous Times Square TKTS booth, where theatregoers can buy tickets at a discount of 25 or 50 percent. Other TDF programs include theatre and dance ticket subsidies, the TAP program for the hearing and visually impaired, a voucher program for inexpensive theatregoing, group sales to hospitals and seniors, a costume collection of more than 75,000 garments and accessories, a hotline number -- (212) 768-1818 -- describing NYC performing arts events, Teachers Night On Broadway, awards to honor costume designers and producers, and courses for novice producers to learn their craft (Commercial Theatre Institute).
Leahy was, on Feb. 18, elected Chairman of the Board of The Broadway Association, an economic advisory committee affiliated with TDF. He said he will continue in that position.
Broadway Association president Richard Basini made the announcement of Leahy's chairmanship at the organization's February 18 luncheon. The Association is devoted to the cultural and economic develoment of the Broadway theatre district. A kind of a "neighborhood chamber of commerce" for the Broadway theatre district, the association serves as a welcoming committee for area businesses and a network for exchanges of ideas. Among the organization's members are Disney Development Corp., the Shubert Organization, American Express, and the Marriott Marquis Hotel.
Gilberto Zaldivar, producer and co-founder of Off-Broadway's Repertorio Espanol, and a member of TDF's Board of Directors, told Playbill On-Line that Leahy "has made very good changes to the organization, especially as far its exposure, and getting theatre known all over the country and the world."
--By David Lefkowitz