Ok, cliché title, but it only becomes a cliché because it speaks the truth.
So, starting off where we left last time. You apply for the rights and magically they become yours. Then they tell you in order to secure these rights you need to send them a cheque for blank amount. Hmmmm….you mean I need money to produce a show?! So you dig out your credit card or find someone you know who isn’t a starving artist to loan/possibly donate the money to you. (ie. that corporate lawyer you know who works in the corner office on the 30th floor of a downtown office building with a view to die for).
Meanwhile you’ve also been researching venues. Finally you find the one that best suits the needs of the show. You tell them your days including tech and strike time. They send you a tentative invoice telling you it will cost you blank amount and say in order to secure the venue you will need to put down a 50% deposit. You blink a few times at the $$$ and think to yourself where the f*#$ am I going to get this kind of cash when I only have $5.94 in my bank account!
This is the reality. Art doesn’t happen without Money. Finding the $$$: this is the rather un-glamorous job of the Producer.
When I first started out, fundraising was probably my least favourite part of the job but now I actually kind of enjoy it. At first it can seem daunting and awkward asking people to donate their money, time, services, etc to your production but ask you must. In my experience box office revenues account for less than %50 of your total revenue stream (sorry little bit of business lingo there). So, where do you get the other 50-75% of the money to put up this beloved project of yours? From the generosity of others.
Now, I have done all sorts of fundraising events throughout the last couple of years such as garage sales, raffles, pub nights, etc but those events often take a lot of organization and time without much return. In my experience the best way of fundraising is actually the simplest: just ask! Yes, it can be intimidating at first but it gets easier and eventually you may even enjoy it because the truth is people really do want to help. They want to be a part of creating something from nothing and seeing it come to life. It gives people great satisfaction to know that they are helping others achieve their dreams.
So ask. Ask corporations to sponsor you in return for logo placement on your poster or an ad in your program. Make a list of everyone you know and send out a donation letter. Paper, envelope, stamp. It is the easiest thing to do and you’d be surprised how many cheques you get in the mail. All those $25 donations add up.
And, lastly, work with other theatre companies. For the past two years we have worked with another local company to run their concession with the profits going to our company. Right now that is what we are doing with Patrick Street Productions and their production of The Full Monty. On Opening Night alone we made $1000 dollars. What did I have to do? Pour the wine.