Elena K. Holy is the Producing Artistic Director of The Present Company, Off-Off Broadway’s most innovative, entrepreneurial and imaginative company. First organized in 1991, Holy oversaw the incorporation of the company, and was responsible for establishing the Board of Directors and securing 501.c.3 (Not-For-Profit) status from the federal government. As Producing Director, Holy was responsible for budgeting, contracts, fundraising, marketing, advertising, public relations, board development, financial reporting and long-term planning. The company existed solely on box office revenue, rehearsal space rental income and individual donors for its first four years. The Present Company now receives funding from private foundations, corporate sponsors, The Department of Cultural Affairs – New York City, The New York State Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. From 1998-2002, the Present Company operated the largest rehearsal and performance space on the Lower East Side (the 7,500 square foot Present Company Theatorium and Downtown Variety Lounge) providing subsidized space to more than 200 companies per year. In the fall of 2001, upon the resignation of Founding Artistic Director John Clancy, Holy was named Producing Artistic Director of the company. Under Holy’s Artistic Direction, the Present Company is a not-for-profit theatre producing organization dedicated to inciting art, cultivating community and creating new American theatre.
Prior to coming on board full time with The Present Company, Holy worked at Richard Frankel Productions for six and a half years, assisting Mr. Frankel for the last four. Richard Frankel Productions, Inc. (RFP) is an independent theatrical production and management company. In 1996, The Present Company created the First Annual New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC). As Producer, Holy was awarded the 1997 New York Magazine Award for her “creativity, vision and enterprise” in creating the festival. In 2016, FringeNYC will celebrate its twentieth anniversary, and is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. Holy directs an all-volunteer staff of 100 people, over 2500 additional volunteers, and 5000 artists representing 200 companies from all over the world, producing nearly 1100 performances annually. Productions from FringeNYC have appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway, and on the road; and many have been published and turned into screenplays.
In 2006, Holy was named one of New York Magazine’s “Influentials” because she “turned the Fringe Festival, which she founded in 1996, into Sundance for the theater crowd – a place where anyone with an idea and a tiny budget can get noticed. Urinetown, the 1999 Fringe musical that made it to Broadway and won three Tonys, is the most extreme example, but more than a dozen Fringe shows have gone on to significant Off Broadway runs. Applications approached 1,000 last year. Her triumph: retaining the fest’s brilliant lunacy amid commercial success.”
In 2007, Mayor Bloomberg awarded The New York International Fringe Festival the Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture “for its phenomenal leadership in showcasing the best and boldest theater and performance by both established and emerging artists. The New York International Fringe Festival is renowned for presenting work that reflects the excitement and energy of the contemporary theater world – locally, nationally and abroad.”
From 2008 to 2011 she served as a Tony Award Nominator, and she continues to keynote and serve on juries at international festivals. In 2015 she was named an Indie Theater Hall of Fame “Person of the Decade” and in 2016, FringeNYC was awarded the Ellen Stewart Award (presented to an individual or organization demonstrating a significant contribution to the Off-Off-Broadway community through service, support and leadership) by the New York Innovative Theatre Awards.
Under Holy’s leadership, The Present Company continues to grow under the new model she has built for not-for-profit sustainability – operating on 91% earned income (8% contributed) while spending 95% of the million dollar budget on programming (5% administrative costs).