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help raising moeny for a college theatre dept.?

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by punktech, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. punktech

    punktech Active Member

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    so i want to start raising money for my college's dept. i'm working on this concept with a few other techs and we have some ideas but i'd like to get more brains on the matter, hopefully some that have pulled this off before. we don't want to do bake sales or raffles because that stuff is so over done. we'd like really original fund-raising techniques. we really don't want to start charging the student body admission because that would drive our attendance numbers down even lower than they are. any idea no matter how crazy is welcome, in fact the crazier the better, because the dept at my school has a reputation for doing some of the silliest things ever.
     
  2. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    First off you don't get far without a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 status. Without that the donor doesn't get a tax deduction. It's not too hard to set up... it's basicaly a booster club. At our college there is the College Foundation. It's a non-profit group who work to support the needs of the college. In my case they have pledged to raise $100K toward my new theater and are working on trying to sell naming rights to the building for big bucks. Find out if you have such a group on campus and see if they will help you. Grants are great often there is a campus grant writer. If you will do the work to find the grants they will help you write it. Look at local organizations and companies that support the arts in your area. For example here if you go to a play you'll find the Boeing corporation listed on the program of just about every major theater. So we have submitted a proposal to them for a donation for our new theater. Again you need that non-profit status for them to get the deduction... in our case The College Foundation is non-profit and they get the money then give it to us. There is the old "selling" seats or spotlights. This can be a great way to get donors. A near by university just did a purchase a spotlight drive to upgrade their inventory. They had a really nice brochure that described each type of spotlight what it does and how much it costs and asked people to purchase a Source Four. Finally... and perhaps the most important place to start is within your division and dean. Colleges do spend money to upgrade their own facilities. It isn't always a lot but depending on how things are going at your college there may be money available. It's important no matter what that you have support from your dean and other high mucky mucks. They need to know what you want, why it's important, what is outdated, how much it will cost, how will it effect your performance ability. Find ways to tie it into the community and you have a jackpot.

    Oh as for the not charging admission... you are nuts. How much do you pay to go out for dinner and a movie? Now compare that to $5 to get into a show? Seriously think about it. If anything it sounds like you should look at charging for tickets and then developing a marketing campaign to fill your seats and make some money. Do you have a marketing program on campus? Work with them to find out how to make money selling tickets.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2007
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I have to agree with gaff, you can't survive, even as a college theatre without charging for tickets. The people who come to the theatre will still come, even if it costs $5. The IC theatre department gave every department student a comp to each show, because most classes required you to see the shows, and if you work on or are in a show you got two comps, everyone else had to come ups with a whopping $7, I don't think there are many who can't afford that.

    We also used to do things like hold auctions. People would put almost anything up for auction from furniture and household goods to notes from classes (the profs did not have any issue with this). All proceeds would go to the department. We would do things like have massage days, where people would volunteer to give massages for something like $5. This worked best during finals weeks.

    So there are a couple ideas for you.
     
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Just want to point out that the high school I used to teach at had one of the poorest student populations in the state with around 60% of the students being on wellfare. I charged $5 a ticket for most shows, tickets sold well and I never heard anyone complain. One time in the nearly 5 years I was there I had two actors privately ask for more comps as their families couldn't afford to come (no problem). For "recital" sorts of performances I always had a concession stand and a donation box and I would make $200-$300 in a night in a house that held 110 people. If I could make that sort of money in such a poor neighborhood you can too.

    Also do Shakespeare!! It's free of royalties and always draws a large crowd. If you can put it in a setting that keeps production costs down you can make a killing off of old Bill Shakes.

    How much does it cost to attend other activities on campus? Dances? Concerts? Sports events? I pay about $350 each for season tickets to the local university football team. When I go to one of the big theaters in town I expect to pay $35-$40. If it's a traveling Broadway show I expect to pay $75+. Taking the family to the baseball game... there goes $50... if we sit in the cheap seats and eat at a hot dog stand outside the park. If we sit in good seats and eat in the stadium, it's $150+. How much is the cover charge to get into your favorite club? I'm starting to beat this point in the ground a little too far. The point is your audience pays money for tickets to events all the time. As long as you keep the price reasonable and put on a good show, they will still come. If you have more money to reinvest in your production values and advertising then even more will come.

    We currently charge $5-$7 for student tickets depending on the show costs and location of the performance. A non-student ticket for a musical at the rented proscenium theater down the street is $10.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2007
  5. tenor_singer

    tenor_singer Active Member

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    I try not to sell things for fundraisers. We're a drama club and entertain, so I create events that charge admission to the general public and use those as my fundraiser. I also sell advertisment space within our play bulletin.

    Some examples of entertainment fundraisers I have done in the past:

    Haunted Walk (last two weekends of October). We found a tree farm that was willing to let us use their property for our "walk". We marked a path roughly 1 mile in length, lit it with midgit lights run from 5 different generators (club members donated the use of theirs). Evenly spaced throughout the walk were little skits that the kids created, directed, etc... that were spooky (and yet kid friendly). One skit that was great was a parent who wore a white sweatsuit and wrapped herself with 2" wide white strips she made from an old bed sheet. She just prowled the path as a stage mummy. We made $2,000.00 per year on it and it was fun. We could have made more if we were allowed to sell food (we were thinking on donuts and hot cider).

    "Grand Valley Idol". Think of the TV Show... charge $5.00 per person (and $10.00 per act). Get three area celebrities (I got a local church choir director and radio show host) for judges and have fun. Let the audience vote (I let our school's special singing group entertain the audience while the votes were counted). Prizes can be given to the winner. The prizes can be donated too!

    A Night of One Acts... We have an ice cream sundae bar that people can create their own sundae for $3.00 (get the stuff donated for the sundaes), charge a $2.00 admission and perform 2 - 3 one acts while they munch their ice cream. We make about $1000.00 on it.

    Car Wash. Or "topless car wash" (can't do with high school because of the implications of impropriety). Wash only the front, back and sides of the car (we do ours by donation). The top is extra! We make about $750.00 and it is fun! We could have made more, but there were two other ones within 400 feet of us).

    I'll list more later... I am a bit rushed for time.

    Good luck!
     
  6. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    There may already be a "slush-fund" for your school into which you could put any profits acquired by you fundraising activities, this would alleviate the necessity of establishing a brand new 501c3. There are, typically, " Umbrellas" under which school activities can be organized. Remember too, if someone receives anything in return for cash, the cash is no longer considered a "donation" which frees up a lot of activities from certain accounting nightmares. Why not host a dance/rave on stage? lots of light, good sound system, Just be sure to rope off the pit, and have plenty of chaperone's in the wings. We did a few dances on stage in HS and they were quite popular. Another one might be to host a, now hear me out, "movie night" if you have a screen and a projector. There are several places from which you can rent "classic" movies charge a modest fee, sell a lot of popcorn, make a lot of Profit. As Gaff said another great source is to do "royalty free" works, a great one is to offer a good old fashioned Melodrama. Stage it outdoors somewhere, where kids can throw popcorn, and act like they do at the movies. Charge a couple of bucks and get any "production costs" donated. One school here, makes their yearly "nut" by only charging for the spring musical. They made enough to hire a teacher part time, then a TD, part time, and now both the TD and Teacher are full time. Once the District realized how invaluable having a TD was and how much the community wanted the Arts, they couldn't say no to hiring them.
     
  7. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Punk a high school that I occasionally work at did a version of "Idol" for the whole school district inviting students from all four high schools to participate. As a college you could host such an event. Provide College Prof's to be judges. Let the judges cut the talent field down to a small number then let the audience vote on the winner. Charge admission. Depending on the size of the city this could be a community wide event, a college only event, or you could host it at the college but only allow high school students to enter. Lot's of options there and if you do it right with good judges the musicians get good quality feedback on how to improve their skills from a well educated panel of judges (No Simons!).
     
  8. punktech

    punktech Active Member

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    you see, events at my campus are free. we have a sizable endowment and a student body of only around 400. we charged back in the day for stuff, but stopped years ago for some reason. and trust me, if something isn't free people here won't go to it.

    one idea we came up with is a "Techie Girls of Simon's Rock[my college's name]" calendar (and possibly a "Techie Guys of Simon's Rock") that we would sell for about 5 bucks.

    i really want to host concerts at my school, but the Student Life dept. schedules those and they never ask us for use of our facilities. i think if we started getting some names into our theatre, people would be more apt to come.

    the problem is my school since it's first year in 1966 has been a liberal arts school, with a nice emphasis on the performing arts (far from a conservatory, but we had a good, solid program. a few years ago we got a new president, ever since then arts and creative persuits have been on the decline here. she (the new prez) wants to turn this place into more of a humanities school; not an arts school. we've gotten progressively less money from the school since her appointment; so asking help from the administration has gotten us no where. i've tried everything, and now i and a few of my close friends are resorting to being aggressive about it when we have meetings with administrators concerning our education (which we have semi-frequently, my school takes a hands on approach to each student). we're also going to subvert the money flow and directly raise money to add to our own budget that the school gives us every fall and spring.
     

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