How to bring in Auditorium Rentals

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by Andy Haefner, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. Andy Haefner

    Andy Haefner Member

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    Hello, I work as the stage crew chief at my high school and yearly we bring in revenue based off of a dance recital which takes place in our auditorium. Does anyone have experience working in high schools and attracting more out-of-district events? I would like to do more of these where possible, currently we don't seek out any rentals, we simply have the one which comes every year.
    RonHebbard likes this.
  2. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    It starts with a plan...

    While rentals can be a good opportunity to make better use of your facility and a good learning opportunity, there are many pitfalls. Use this site's search function as there have been many discussions about rental policies, problem renters, etc.

    Different events have different requirements. A public speaker or comedian is different from a touring show or a bodybuilding competition. The demands and the likelihood of a positive experience for all parties depends on the sort of outside events you're prepared to handle.

    Things you need to consider include:
    • Does your school have a rental policy?
    • Does your principal, school board and/or city council support using the venue for outside events?
    • How would these rentals be staffed (crew, cleaning, security, FOH, box office, promotions, etc.)?
    • What sort of impact would these events have on the primary purpose of the facility? (Does a rental get exclusive use of the auditorium or would they have to clear the stage so it is available for school purposes during the day?)
    • Does the school's security policy get in the way of having strangers in the building?
    • Who is going to handle the requests, manage the contracts, manage liability, etc.?
    • What do other venues in town think of a new competitor in the marketplace?
    I'm sure others with more experience in a school setting have more to offer.
  3. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    San Francisco, CA
    When I helped manage some of these off campus events, we initially only rented to churches and scout groups. They understood they could alter nothing and anything they wanted to leave had to be cleared ahead of time. They also provided their own $1M liability insurance.
    Then later on rented to a single non-school related, teen theatre group. But only because the director had worked at the school for 15 years.
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  4. rwhealey

    rwhealey Well-Known Member

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    The dance recital/competition business can be lucrative. My high school hosted many each year and generated a large amount of income even with paying 4-6 student staff, a tech director, and (at the beginning) an off-duty police officer. We found that the off-duty officer wasn't needed, but in today's environment may be required.

    These events occurred only on weekends and we scheduled them around three shows a year and other school events. They would usually load in on Friday afternoon after class and load out on Sunday. They did not require technical services, however, as each competition group carried their own sound and were content with a single lighting look.

    The key was that rental dollars went into an account controlled by the auditorium, so upgrades could be made and the wear & tear on the facility could be managed. This was supported by most administrators but it was a fight every year as others in the district would see the revenue stream and try to get their hands on it.

    Contracts and booking were handled by the tech director, who was a teacher that dedicated half of his time to the auditorium administration.
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  5. NickVon

    NickVon Well-Known Member

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    These three gentleman above have nailed it.

    As a snarky response, you all need to have the "need" in your area of performance venue, and your venue shouldn't be terrible (either with the politics, headache, of dealing with the school board)

    Here in North Jersey, high schools being used by local community events not affiliated with the Board of Ed, or even from neighboring towns is status quo. It does generally require some level of "Theater technical director/ facilitates manager" to manage the scheduling and incidentals of a rental contract. You may be surprised how many School Boards are not equipped with that staffing position to look after what is probably the most advanced/expensive room in a school. It may take a little doing to staff developed to engage in rental opportunities. Many schools are not equipped nativity to participate in the rental business.

    It can be a lucrative for schools to do get in the business if there money exists in the area to support both the schools costs, + profit, with out leaving the rentee in the poor house.

    Local high school near me, charges 75$/hr for 2 staff members to be present (lx and sound) 50$/hr for Deck manager (usually student stage manger) + School security rate and 5000$ for 12 hours to just be in the theater. Those pay rates are 1.5x after 8 hours as well :). During dance season, dance comps and dance recitals are paying those rates that for 2 months straight, and still are making money hand over fist from ticket, DVD sales etc. This might be an outlier scenario but it's something you can strive for.
    macsound and RonHebbard like this.
  6. AshleyB

    AshleyB Member

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    Birmingham, AL
    Once you get all of your details nailed down (rates, requirements, etc as noted above),
    - establish a web presence (a page on your school or theatre dept's website) that says you are available for rentals and has good pictures of your auditorium and lobby with easy to find contact information.
    - work your community contacts. At our HS, we had a good relationship with a local Indian cultural group, and they hosted several events at our school. These were easy to host events without the stress that comes with hosting a big dance competition.
    RonHebbard likes this.

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