TRU was formed to promote a spirit of cooperation and support within the general theatre community by providing information and a variety of entertainment-related services and resources that strengthen the capacity of producing organizations, individuals producers, self-producing artists and other theater professionals.
TRU achieves its mission through 1) maintenance of a member network of producers and other industry professionals in the New York area; 2) linking members to valuable resources both within and beyond the theatrical community, 3) providing public forums for introducing and sharing information, including specific requests for help and support, 4) publishing a printed and electronic newsletter for services, discount offers and other programs of benefit to the membership, 5) providing educational opportunities (including TRU-sponsored events and competitive scholarships) on industry-related topics and training, and 6) serving as producer for selected events that provide practical opportunities to the membership and other theater professionals.
TRU (Theater Resources Unlimited) was organized in March, 1992 by Bob Ost, the group's current president, Cheryl Davis, its vice-president, and Gary Hughes, its former treasurer. The initial goals were to bring together a supportive network of both established and newly developing producing organizations in the New York area in order to interface these producing organizations with other potentially valuable resources both within and beyond the theatrical community. As part of its networking mission, TRU gives newly formed organizations a forum in which to clarify their goals and become more effective in communicating and pursuing them. TRU also provides all participating organizations with the opportunity to learn and benefit from the knowledge of each other's successes and disappointments, and to offer everyone a forum in which to make specific requests for what they need.
From its beginning meetings in the founders' living room, the organization has grown to where it now has an active membership of about 450, and a database of over 7000 theater professionals. TRU holds monthly seminars on a wide range of subjects important to theatrical producers and directors, conducted by panels of experts from both the commercial and not-for-profit segments of Broadway, Off-Broadway and the motion picture industry. These seminars are open to the general public as well as members and are frequently attended by 50 or more actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers. TRU publishes a bi-monthly newsletter and a Weekly Email Newsletter Update, provides discounted tickets to members' productions, frequently serves as a clearinghouse for theatre and rehearsal space, personal services and production props and materials, as well as offering a referral database for tracking down designers, performers, directors and any other staff that might be needed for a production.
Over the years, TRU has developed a structured range of programs to address the needs of its members. TRU served as the umbrella organization for a co-production by several of its member companies as a part of the first annual New York Fringe Festival. From that experience, the organization expanded its production efforts by creating the TRU VOICES Annual New Play Reading Series, the TRU VOICES Annual New Musicals Reading Series in which TRU underwrites developmental readings of new works for theater, with the primary goal being to offer a developmental environment for new producers as well as new plays. The TRU FACES Cabaret Fundraiser was created to showcase self-producing member writers and performers, as well as network them with other producers.
In 2001, TRU began giving annual scholarships to The Commercial Theater Institute, to encourage the development of aspiring producers. By 2007, TRU had started a Producer Development Program for a select group of aspiring producers, with a special interest in developing producers of color. The program features special monthly panels, plus the opportunity for consultations, mentorships and internships with top commercial producers and general managers. TRU now offers a series of Boot Camps, workshops created to help theater professionals learn and develop essential skills, including "Raising Money for Theater," "Pitching and Presentation Skills" and "Weekend Intensive for Showcase Producing."
A 2003 program was initiated to increase networking opportunities between producers and performers: an annual TRU Audition Event, a weekend of auditions in which 40 to 50 producing entities, plus casting professionals, can view the work of over 100 performers. To service actor members, TRU has also added special Resource Nights in which perforrmers "Speed Date" with casting people, coaches and others, plus free monthly seminars for actor members.
TRU interfaces writers and producers with a unique series of Writer-Producer Speed Date evenings, and further guides writers in the business of theater with a "Practical Playwriting" workshops and a "Director-Writer Communications Lab."