IT's all about keeping your ear to the ground
and knowing who is around you than getting on their call
list for donating gear to.
Know of someone in your are getting an upgrade? Shouldn't really have to call
them, they should already be on the phone to you. Have a contact set up with everyone in your area pre-established both out of loaning gear to each other or swapping tickets? At that point
in you knowing them and them knowing you what you are looking for or might be interested in would get a phone call
. If a theater's closing down or going out of business, or even closing down for the winter, it's a good source for stuff. I used to attend a lot of going out of business both sales and theater clean outs. Keep especially your eye to the news paper for such things.
Setting up a network
of suppliers knowing you are interested in their junk or stuff they don't need or really want hanging around anymore is a good option for production companies and retailers. Check in every few months if you don't hear from your contact with them to keep in their memory and perhaps send
them some free tickets every once in a while out of thanks. Could buy some of your gear from them also. You buy some, they give some away at times.
Kind of a project in becoming that supplier's "pet theater" to give support to.
I for instance have a few theaters I give old cable and scrap drape to normally. Even gave away a radial arm saw and panel saw
to one of them at one point
On the other hand
, being kind only goes so far. If I send
out an E-Mail warning that I have some stuff to get rid of, or call
them, I expect a response promptly yes or no and a pickup of the gear in a timely way. I in getting rid of gear don't want to be hanging onto it for you weeks on end. Also if I know what someone wants (sorry not accepting wish lists from the forum - already have enough people I supply), I keep my eye out for stuff for them.
Lights dimmers and control are a little harder to get for free. Once in a while there will be something on stagecraft saying X company is giving away to a good home ...... - you arrange pick up
. Otherwise since lights and control are more easily stored or sold off, they are not as easily just given away. At times it could be a liability issue also.
It's really useful when your theater members work for the company giving the stuff away even if only part time or for a summer in getting a way in to the supplier. I constantly give away microphone
cable and various fixtures etc
. to our employees or at least ask them first.
In working for various companies over the years, even if for a short time I had created a network
of free stuff in a short amount of time. They strike
a show or clean out a storage room and I would get a call
. Even got Audrie II in that way at one point
. Cheaper to give stuff away than pay to dumpster it away and also a tax write off. Not as easy however to coordinate giving the stuff away. Kind of an old boy's network
in giving stuff away to those you know or know are interested. Unless you know those giving it away, you most often won't know it's available.
Once in a while I used to see some lighting fixtures on the back of some trashed scrap metals carrying pickup truck. It was always a shame to see such a thing. On the other hand
, the scrap dealer probably gave the theater some cash for the scrap metal. Should you be given an option to get something for a nominal fee for what it's worth in scrap metal or as a donation - say $5.00 for a PAR
64 lamp, have that cash available. Used gear auctions are often a good way of getting gear and fair to all. If a theater is going out of business, make an offer for their gear.
A final option is trade. I traded a Leko
and ladder for a very good quality Hamelton drafting table at one point
. Good deal for both of us. You wander around back stage
of a theater and see they have a bunch of extra Fresnels hanging on a pipe, some seem to need work. Ask about them. You might get them for free or might be able to trade for them. The barter system
is a good way of getting stuff. Say you have extra drapes
, or some platforms or what ever else you don't need in surplus. In kind trades for labor is also good. I re-wired about 20 lights for one theater in exchange for one of their fixtures at one point
. Perhaps they are doing a big show and need to rent some stuff from you, perhaps you can instead trade it for some gear you need.