Gary D. Cole

gary-d-coleWho is Gary D. Cole? For those of you who don’t know, get with the program! He is the author of the novel Black Box and the memoir Artless as well as is a theater entrepreneur, producer, and playwright. His memoir Artless is a fascinating exploration of his life plus is an odyssey through the arts and politics.

If you who have already read Artless the following is going to be a special treat. If you have not yet read it but are planning to, this will be a terrific preview of the man who somehow manages to straddle the gap between the arts and business.

artlessBefore we dive in, let’s take a look at the context this evolved out of. We are in a graduate program for an Arts Administration program and are reading Gary D. Cole’s Artless as assigned reading. The class became interested in what Gary D. Cole is up to now, so we approached him. And he was kind and generous and gave us a response.

We at Lights Camera Read are thrilled that Gary D. Cole answered the following three questions we asked him. You will find his answers below.


The questions:

  1. It’s been a while since Artless was published. What are your current views on the relationship between art and commerce?
  2. You wrote the novel Black Box as well as the play Bodyhold. Do you have any current artistic projects you are working on?
  3. As a leader and manager, do you have any advice for aspiring nonprofit executive directors, artistic directors and managing directors in the current political climate?

Now here are Gary’s answers to the questions:

  1. I would draw a distinction between “selling out” and incorporating businesslike principles in the operation of an arts company. Selling out means compromising one’s artistic principles in the interest of making a buck. I don’t condone that and never will. But it is not selling out to be accountable to one’s supporters, responsible for complying with budgets, respectful of one’s employees and contractors, and receptive to criticism from patrons — recipes for success in the arts as well as in business.
  1. I’m putting the finishing touches on a memoir of my time as a Chicago Tribune paperboy in the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. Titled “NEWSBOY: Along My Route for The World’s Greatest Newspaper 1968-1975,” the book is both a chronicle of a young boy trying to make sense of the tumultuous events exploding around him (including assassinations, riots, and war), as well as an intimate portrayal of my route and customers. I suppose this project could be characterized as a prequel to “ARTLESS.” I expect to see it published later this year or next.

Last year I produced a remount of “Mary Tudor,” one of CoHo Productions’ most successful shows, here in North Carolina where I now live. Financially, we structured the production in the same manner as “Bodyhold,” with each cast and crew member receiving a guaranteed payment plus a percentage of profits. I’m pleased to report that the production did well and paid most of the actors and production team more than they had ever received in theater.

  1. I believe my cautions in “ARTLESS” about the perils of reliance on government funding are as well-founded today as they were when the book came out. We are sadly living in a time of bitter ideological divisions that will inevitably play out in grant decisions. Leaders in the arts should be wary of tailoring their content to suit the prevailing political creed, rather than producing work that truly inspires them. They should keep their focus on finding constituents in their community that support their artistic vision and doing everything they can to engage those supporters in the life of the company. And they should always be asking whether “building capacity” is truly in the best interest of promoting their art, as maintaining an organization can easily become a higher priority than producing great work.

I would urge arts executives to be open to different collaborative approaches that can help reduce costs. I’m obviously biased, but the co-production model we introduced at CoHo Productions has held up well through the years. Theater artists from the community propose projects to CoHo, which provides the venue, marketing, and box office under an agreed budget for the plays it selects. CoHo’s artistic partners are responsible for the creative and technical elements of the production. This approach allows CoHo to minimize its overhead expense while maximizing the energy and commitment that the artists bring through realizing their vision for the projects they initiate. Co-production might make an interesting case study for your class!

Yianni Stamas talks about Nonprofit Fundraising

A question we get asked often is “What is the difference between for-profit and nonprofit fundraising.” And the simple answer is that when you are getting funds for a for-profit company, there tends to be equity that is given to the investor for her or his investment. Whereas with a nonprofit organization raising funds, accepts in the funds in the form of a donation which the donor can write off on her or his taxes.

There is an article on the “Thrillumentary” website that might be of interest to you. It speaks about a 3 step process to raise funds as a nonprofit.

Housing for Artists

ensemble2Although it may seem at times like auditioning for a closed jazz ensemble, affordable housing for artists is actually available in the Big Apple.

Are you an artist living in New York City who is looking for affordable housing? If yes, then there’s a new website from Lights Camera Read that could be of interest to you.

It’s called “NYC Housing Lottery” at and it’s all about a journey to find affordable housing in NYC.

It is a series of ever evolving blog entries where you are shown step by step what you can do to navigate the New York City housing world and get a great apartment.

Lights Camera Read is doing the website because it fulfills a part of their mission which is to empower performing artists. We hope this is is relevant and interesting to you. Enjoy!

Also, in tandem with “Housing for Artists” is an educational program we developed in 2016 called “Funding for Artists.” Details about this program can be found in Lights Camera Read’s 2016 Annual Report, excerpts from which are in the following blog entry:

Yianni Stamas Funding For Artists and Year’s End LCR Report

ring-of-film-2Hello all.

At Lights Camera Read in 2016 we created a new “Funding for Artists” presentation among other exciting projects.

2016 was a terrific year for Lights Camera Read in terms of fulfilling our mission which is to promote literacy and empower emerging performing artists. Our reach and transformation was primarily online, connecting with over 64,000 artists monthly (or over 768,000 annually) though our cooperative of blogs and vlogs.

Our primary challenge though, was one that is quite common in the nonprofit world, which is – funding. So rather than sitting in the sidelines wringing our hands, we took action. Our strategy is simple, continue to serve our demographic (emerging performing artists) while simultaneously increasing our visibility in regards to need.

We created two educational programs “Funding for Artists” and “Thrillumentary Investment in Movies.” Both are designed to teach creative individuals to be action oriented artist entrepreneurs and make opportunities happen for themselves. Because we come from a for-profit world, entrepreneurship is an important concept to us.

“Funding for Artists” and “Thrillumentary Investment in Movies” are works in progress and manifest themselves in the form of forwarding domain names ( and as well as PowerPoint presentations.

The PowerPoint presentations are currently available through individual online digital appointments and we plan to take them to the State University of New York and CUNY environment in 2017. In 2016, at a SUNY “entertainment entrepreneurship clinic” we presented the “Funding for Artists” presentation with very positive feedback.

We also launched new and improved versions (WordPress) of our websites:,, plus premiered an interactive educational site,

The Platinum Pias Community Awards Show for Artists (who are making a difference) is a program we have been producing annually since 2010.

“Thrillumentary” is the learning tool feature length film we are making with Lights Camera Read emerging actors from the Magic Neighbors Theater Company.

Art Gush is the educational site that takes the day to day activities of producing “Thrillumentary” and makes them into online courses that teach artists how to make a feature film in just three steps a day in less than two years.

Art Gush has been developed as a members-only membership site with beta tester scholarships given to individuals on a lottery basis.

So as you can see we were very busy in 2016, and now with the themes of “Funding for Artists” and “Thrillumentary Investment in Movies” at the forefront of our plans, we are quite hopeful for 2017.

“Thrillumentary” Reading in About a Week

script-readingAs many of you know, Lights Camera Read is producing a movie this year called “Thrillumentary.”

The “Thrillumentary” table read is happening in about a week and we are quite excited.

We’ve assembled a cast for the reading and trailer as per the Art Gush Method of Digital Filmmaking.

This is not only a reading of the script but also a recording of the dialogue. Some of the recorded dialogue may be used in the trailer.

Plus, speaking of upcoming Lights Camera Read events, in regards to the Platinum Pias Community Awards Show for Artists (Making a Difference) we’ve been getting questions again from people wanting to know how artists are nominated.

The answer is that anyone can nominate any artist they feel is “making a difference” in her or his community, especially in New York City, because then it is easier for the nominee to attend the awards.

In fact, you can even nominate yourself!

We accept nominations throughout the year for the following year’s Pias. Simply click “return” and give your suggestion for an artist nominee for 2018 and how they are making a difference in their community.

Meanwhile, it is just a little over a month and a half until the Platinum Pias 2017. March 20th is just around the corner!

Yianni Stamas on Platinum Pias Artists 2017

platinum-pias-artists-2017FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lights Camera Read, in association with Empire State College, State University of New York, present – the 8th Annual Platinum Pias Community Awards Show for Artists, 2017. The Pias, since 2010, have consisted of creative individuals who are making a difference in their NYC neighborhoods and internationally.

The Platinum Pias is a video and live presentation. Live awards presenters this year include Richard T. Oliver (two time Grammy Award winning producer and engineer), Tina Casula Gross (Broadway Performing Arts Center), Ali Baynes (“Thrillumentary”) and Rodger Taylor (WurkNprogress and formerly of the NYPL).

For the first time ever the Platinum Pias and their producer, Lights Camera Read, are involved in the development of a mystery/thriller feature film called “Thrillumentary.” “Thrillumentary” is the story of a media artist who must solve a murder to save his community awards show, hence the alternative title “Thrillumentary: Making a Difference Can Be Murder.” There will be some filming done at the Pias this year for the motion picture!

Why do we do the Platinum Pias Community Awards Show for Artists? We do the show to demonstrate the importance of the arts in our current times plus recognize the artists making the art. Who will win the Platinum Pias? Please come as our guest to find out.

The awards will be on Monday, March 20 at 6:30PM at DCTV Community Media Center at 87 Layfayette Street. There will be food and refreshments and admission is free! To get your ticket sign up for the newsletter then email requesting a pass.

The artists nominated this year include…For the “Actor Making a Difference Platinum Pia” – Danny Hicks (“Evil Dead 2”), Lin Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”) and Victor Verhaeghe (“Bridge of Spies”). For the “Artist Teacher Making a Difference Platinum Pia” – Alina Bloomgarden (MOTI), Bruce Payne (Baruch “Arts Administration” Program) and Mamedjarra Diop (Sunu Thiossane). For the “Musician Making a Difference Platinum Pia” – Chi-Y (Hip Hop Artist), Justin Giordano (Singer/Songwriter) and Thrillumentary International Band (Movie Soundtrack for “Thrillumentary”). And finally, for the “Pop Icon Making a Difference Platinum Pia” the nominees are Bobby Hart (Monkees Songwriter), Karolyn Grimes (“It’s a Wonderful Life”) and the late Tony D. Fields (Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”).

Platinum Pias 2017 Date Has Been Set

It’s official, the date of the 8th Annual Platinum Pias Community Awards Show for Artists has been set. This is a much anticipated edition of the popular awards show because the focus will be entirely on artists who are making a difference in their NYC and international communities.

The Platinum Pias has a come a long way since it’s humble beginnings in 2010 but still manages to keep its “community feel.”

One of the exciting aspects of this Pias is that it will feature a bit about the behind-the-scenes of the making of the theater/web/film project “Thrillumentary.”

“Thrillumentary,” as you may recall, is the endeavor that will first be a theater piece, then a web series and finally a feature film.

The 3 steps a day taken by the makers of “Thrillumentary” are documented for members only, of the Art Gush Method of Digital Filmmaking website.

Art Gush Digital Filmmaking


Here at Lights Camera Read (producers of the Platinum Pias Community Awards Show for Artists) we are truly excited about the Art Gush educational website and its impact on the digital filmmaking scene.

Because of our Media Space NYC cooperative of vlogs and blogs, we can include Art Gush as a part of the NYC message of hope for the arts that reaches over 120,000 a month.

Art Gush is a unique membership site which documents the behind-the-scenes of the making of “Thrillumentary,” the mystery thriller, from concept to creation to distribution and marketing.

The lessons are broken down into weekly courses that in turn are further reduced to 3 steps a day. Art Gush is considered a breakthrough method of thriller digital filmmaking where the student can make a feature film in 3 steps a day, working most days only 1 to 2 hours.

Art Gush empowers the user to be able, through organizational strategies, to easily wear more hats on the production and therefore keep costs down. These roles include producer, director, writer, editor, actor, composer, marketer and distributor.

Art Gush makes it all simple for the student who has at least some background in filmmaking or the arts and is good with computers!

Many of the Art Gush users who are making their own feature length films are on this email list and as always we welcome feedback from those who are in the trenches.