TDF History

A timeline of TDF achievements and milestones

Created in 1968 to help an ailing New York City theatre industry, TDF now provides support to more than 900 plays and musicals, returning upward of $2 billion in revenue to thousands of Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway music and dance productions. Here’s a timeline of significant moments and milestones in TDF history:

  • Theatre Development Fund, a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, is founded; opens temporary headquarters at Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
  • Theatre Subsidy program begins with student tickets to The Great White Hope.
  • Voucher program for Off-Off Broadway theatre starts.
  • Costume Collection opens.
  • Dance Voucher program starts.
  • Lower Manhattan TKTS Discount Booth opens on William Street.
  • TDF offices move to 1501 Broadway.
  • Music Voucher program starts.
  • Dance Subsidy program starts.
  • TDF presents first American Sign Language-interpreted Broadway performance: The Elephant Man.
  • TDF consults with the Society of London Theatres to open TKTS London (originally called the Official Half Price Ticket Booth) in Leicester Square Gardens.
  • Lower Manhattan TKTS Discount Booth moves to 2 World Trade Center.
  • New expanded Times Square TKTS Discount Booth is installed in June, celebrating 15 years of TKTS.
  • TDF Travel begins with first package tour to London.
  • TDF and The Juilliard School partner to launch annual weeklong Interpreting for the Theatre Institute.
  • On February 26, a bomb explosion at the World Trade Center temporarily closes the Lower Manhattan TKTS Discount Booth. By March 15, it is back up and running at Manhattan Savings Bank at 4 World Trade Center. 
  • TDF Costume Collection launches the Irene Sharaff Awards.
  • TDF and The Broadway League-sponsored Commercial Theater Institute presents first Robert Whitehead Award.
  • On June 6, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani presents citation to TDF in honor of our 25th anniversary at Gracie Mansion reception for theatre.
  • Introduction to Theatre (originally called Stage Doors) program launches in January with a grant from Lexus.
  • TDF Accessibility Program for Students launches with Talking Hands, which brings children with mild to severe hearing loss to American Sign Language-interpreted Broadway matinees.
  • Young Playwrights program (originally called Residency Arts Project) begins, creating  playwriting residencies in NYC high schools.
  • TDF presents first open captioned Broadway performance: Barrymore.
  • TDF and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wendy Wasserstein create the Wendy Wasserstein Project (originally called Open Doors), a one-of-a-kind arts mentorship program for high school students. 
  • TKTS2K competition to design a new Times Square TKTS Discount Booth launches and receives 683 entries from 31 countries.
  • TDF organizes first London tour for people with hearing loss.
  • TDF presents the first open captioned performances in the UK at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • Australian designers John Choi and Tai Ropiha win the TKTS2K competition.
  • Lower Manhattan TKTS Discount Booth destroyed on September 11; within one month, TDF opens temporary location at Bowling Green.
  • Lower Manhattan TKTS Discount Booth relocates to South Street Seaport.
  • TDF expands its open captioning program to include Off-Broadway productions
  • TDF Costume Collection moves to new space in Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens.
  • TDF starts a National Open Caption Training Programconsulting with arts organizations throughout the country.
  • Father Duffy Square renovation breaks ground. Times Square TKTS Discount Booth moves to temporary location outside the New York Marriott Marquis.
  • Times Square TKTS Discount Booth returns to Father Duffy Square in its new location "under the red steps."
  • TKTS offices move to 520 Eighth Avenue.
  • TDF presents audio described Broadway performance for people who have low vision or are blind. 
  • Autism Friendly Performances (originally called the Autism Theatre Initiative) begin with a performance of The Lion King on Broadway.
  • TDF receives the Mayor's Award for Arts and Culture. 
  • TDF receives the Lucille Lortel Awards: Outstanding Body of Work for our support of the Off-Broadway community.
  • TDF starts a National Autism Friendly Training Program to help theatres across the country launch their own Autism Friendly Performances.
  • TDF and Theatre Bay Area launch the Triple Play research project to investigate the relationship between audiences and new plays.
  • Introduction to Dance program launches.
  • TDF and The Broadway League launch Theatre Access NYC, a website highlighting accessibility information for Broadway shows.
  • TKTS opens a TKTS Discount Booth at Lincoln Center.
  • TDF reaches goal of serving 10,000 students annually in our Introduction to Theatre program.
  • In response to the shutdown of in-person performances due to the pandemic, TDF reinvents many programs for virtual consumption, including Introduction to Theatre, the Wendy Wasserstein Project, Autism Friendly Performances and the Veterans Theatregoing Program.
  • Community Connection Program launches in June, providing curated online arts programming in Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish and English for older adults in NYC.
  • TDF Costume Collection reopens on August 4 after a five-month shutdown—the first TDF program to reopen for in-person business.
  • As theatres across NYC resume performances, TDF reopens the Times Square TKTS Discount Booth on September 14 after an unprecedented 18-month shutdown.
  • To help the theatre industry recover and build new audiences, TDF launches the Broadway Passport Series, offering members of 60 nonprofit organizations discount tickets to shows.
  • Veterans Theatregoing Program returns to in-person performances with an outing to Broadway's Lackawanna Blues on October 10. 
  • Autism Friendly Performances hosts its first in-person performance in two years: Broadway's Come From Away on January 30.
  • Introduction to Theatre brings more than 1,000 students to The Lion King on March 2, the first full house from one program for any Broadway show since the pandemic began.
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