The Arts & Business Council of New York will honor a municipal finance lawyer for her compliance work in relation to tax-exempt financing for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54.
Linda D’Onofrio, an attorney with Day Pitney LLP, on Tuesday will receive the creative business volunteer award at the 46th Annual Encore Awards for her work on the financing to renovate the theater in Manhattan, which found fame as a discotheque popular with celebrities such as Andy Warhol in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Roundabout Theatre restored Studio 54 to its theatrical roots in the late 1990s and purchased the venue in 2003 with a $6.8 million grant from New York City providing the down payment. To cover the remaining costs, New York City’s Economic Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency issued $18 million of tax-exempt bonds in 2003 on behalf of Roundabout.
D’Onofrio will receive the award for her volunteer work in managing Roundabout’s financial structure. She was responsible for reading through bond documents and contracts with the city and advising the theatre to ensure that its use of Studio 54 remained in compliance with the bond requirements.
“She spearheads outreach to enhance the organization’s sustainability and financial strength,” Karen Leiding, deputy director of the Arts & Business Council, said in a statement. “She has spent hundreds of hours volunteering with Roundabout’s management on the tax-exempt financing structure for the Studio 54 theatre.”
D’Onofrio said that because the Roundabout Theatre is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, it can be a beneficiary of tax-exempt financing. But there are many requirements that need to be met in post-issuance bond compliance.
“I spent time reviewing documents, reviewing the law, and analyzing whether or not certain uses the organization was contemplating for Studio 54 would fall within the guidelines and restrictions of tax-exempt bonds,” D’Onofrio said.
She initially got involved with the Roundabout when she joined the leadership council, where she learned Studio 54 was contemplating different ideas for what it wanted to do in the future relating to private use of its facility.
“I made recommendations to allow the organization to comply with the law and still accomplish the kinds of things they wanted to at Studio 54,” D’Onofrio said. “I am happy I was able to assist them in their business goals.”
She said she has always been a supporter of Roundabout and thinks it is an extraordinary organization. “It assists the city by making theatre available through its subscriptions at a cost to those that might not otherwise be able to go to the theatre,” she said.
When she is not volunteering at Roundabout, her work at Day Pitney consists of a focus on tax law as it relates to public finance and taxable and tax-exempt financial instruments. Her experience covers the tax analysis and structuring of all types of municipal bond issues and other transactions.
D’Onofrio added that “whether a client is a pro bono client or a regular client, I want to apply the same degree of attention and scrutiny to assist them with post-issuance compliance.”