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RCDS Arts Gala

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by zac850, Nov 26, 2004.

  1. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    Well, my school just made about $90,000 in a large Gala for my school, so I figured (ok, well Mayhem told me to).

    First, background on the gala:
    It was a storytelling and auction evening. We enticed people to come in with names such as Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Niles from Frasier (whats his name, it slips my mind now... David Hyde Pierce, thats it) Bill Irwin, John Tutturro, and a few other people who slip my head now.

    Tables were expensive, it ranged from $100 a seat to $5000 for a table of 6. In ticket sales alone we made about $53,000.

    The auction part made a lot of money for us. We had people donate things to auction off. These things ranged from art work to a private meal cooked by a mexican chief, to a vacation to tickets to a Broadway show and backstage passes. The smaller things were in a silent auction, while 7 or 10 of the larger items were auctioned in a live auction.

    I'm not sure if I should put in more of the technical aspects or the preparation aspects into this post. I was not in the main preparation, I was on the tech department, so I was the one responsible for getting the crew and helping to run the crew. I did not design the show, but I did make some suggestions to the design.

    Some of the technical details can be found here. I don't know what else to say, so anyone with questions, post them.

    Oh, I should say that we got the story tellers because Bill Irwin is a parent, so he called in favors to his friends.
     
  2. dvsDave

    dvsDave Benevolent Dictator Administrator Senior Team CB Mods Fight Leukemia

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    Could you find out and post some more of the organization details, for instance; how did you advertise, how did you go about getting the donations for the auction, etc?
     
  3. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    I do not know most of the organization details, unfortunately.

    What I do know:

    A few of the parents who support the arts decided that we needed money. A few ideas were tossed around, and it was decided that we should have this storytelling. Originally it was going to be in our theater (/gym/cafeteria). I was called and put on the tech committee, since I was the only one at the school who knows our tech set-up.

    We sold many tickets, however, and they realized that we would need to have it somewhere else, in a larger room. Someone found this space, an old textile mill that has been semi-converted into an arts area. It was really just a huge room.

    For the live auction part, it was just a bunch of people knocking on doors. One of our parents is the head of the youth theater department at the regional theater that I work in, so she donated a series to the main-stage shows in the theater. Bill Irwin donated tickets and backstage passes to his upcoming play on Broadway, one parent donated a meal (he is a chef...) However, people also got companies to donate stuff, though how exactly I'm not sure.

    Breaking it down by money raised:
    approx $55,000 was raised by ticket sales, the cost of the tables. This ranged from $100 a seat to $5000 a table (table has 6 people). If you paid more, you got caviar and got to go into the green room before the show to meet Paul Newman and the rest.

    The remaining $45,000 was raised by the auctions. This was split into 2 segments, the silent auction and the live auction. The silent auction was auctioning smaller things off, photos, a ticket series, basically anything under $1000 or $2000. About $20,000 was raised in the live auction. Some of the things were use of a huge house in Bermuda, Sesame Street's Mr. Noodle would come to your child's birthday party (this was then donated to a child's hospital, which was amazingly nice), and things of that scale (furniture was also auctioned off, but that did not sell very well).

    The main thing you need is the thing to draw people in. People heard that Paul Newman was coming, and everyone wanted to go (he is about 80 now, but was once a very popular actor, for all you kids) as well as David Hyde Pierce and John Tuttorro, and people wanted to come. We had a great MC (an actor who teaches history and is the head of admissions, Jim Fyfe), and it made everyone want to come.


    I think that is the hardest thing, getting people to want to come. Most schools do not have the connections to stars like my school does. We are lucky enough to have Bill Irwin, as well as a woman who is artistic director for several moves (her last one was Manchurian Candidate). It could be better for other schools to find some connection they have in some other way, or possibly invite back old graduated acting stars and re-live some of the good moments of the theater. You wouldn't be able to make a hundred thousand dollars, but you still may be able to make 10 or 20 thousand for the theater department.

    The problem we are facing now is how to split up the money. This money was for the entire arts department, not just the theater department. Because of this, the theater department may only end up with 20,000 or 30,000 (but i'll be damed if I give it up without a fight!).

    I will leave off on the artistic design of the show, though I should mention that it was almost all borrowed equipment. One of the parents of my school designs lighting for clubs, and routinely purchases hundreds thousands of dollars worth of equipment from places, such as High End Systems. Because of this, we had a rep from High End Systems come in with the equipment, and help to set it up. However, no one came for a fancy light show, so even if you just set up with an SM-58 and a speaker and 2 Source 4's, that shouldn't be a problem. This was not done in a theater, we built a stage against a wall. For this type of fundraiser, it is almost better not to have the fourth wall, but to open everything up. The front row of tables was about 2 feet away from where the stars were talking on stage.

    Also, another plus is that I now have a good relationship with Steven Dunnington, the designer. He said that since he is moving his storage location, he will possibly donate some old intelligent lights he doesn't need anymore!!!!!

    Any more questions? This was an amazing thing for the arts at my school, and it would be great if everyone else's school could try something like it. Every teacher who came was astounded by what they saw, and congratulated me for it.

    I also should say that I had a great crew of guys helping out for load in and load out, and for all the long hours.

    Anything I left out, any questions? I'm somewhat tired, so I hope all of this makes sense....
     
  4. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    I never know that I wielded so much power :twisted:

    On a more serious note Zac - would it be fair to say that if another school was to find at least one notable person (actor/singer/comedian) to participate - that would be the most difficult thing to do?

    Once you have one "name" committed to the show, I would imagine that would encourage others to join in.

    I know that you were not involved in the promotions and advertising for this event but you may have seen the posters, flyers etc. If so, any comments that may help others. It is great to put on a show but you also need to let everyone know about it.

    So – does anyone else feel inspired to look into raising funds for their school? A few people have recently commented on the lack of funding – now is your time to ask more questions and give the tin can a serious shake.
     
  5. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, once you have a name, you give people a reason to come to the show. Also, depending on how much that "name" likes you, he may call in favors to his friends, and get more people to come.

    I know that a few flyers were around school and that they made sure that the entire parent body was aware of the gala, though, unfortunately I don't know anything else about that.

    Remember that if you get the entire school community talking about it, they may tell there friends, especially if there friends is a big fan of the "name" your bringing in. Putting up posters outside of the school, in the town would be a good way to get people to know whats happening. Maybe get the newspaper to write a little bit about it.

    People will come to see a star at a school function because there is a greater chance that they will be able to meet that star walking around before the show.
     
  6. nygaff

    nygaff Member

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    haha zack spitzer i found you!

    its josh from the hayes btw.

    J
     
  7. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    A big name can often be useful for a galia, otherwise back in school we had something called "Theater of Ted" which no doubt is still an active type of event and one which even for a $1.00 cover charge that can be wavered would weekly prove fund raising results. Another theater "Too Much Light Makes Baby go Blind", used to roll a large die in what you would be charged to enter. They went to a minimum charge in addition to this and or perhaps two dice after this but in a show that still runs had a novel idea in assuring a constant funding and given a good show headed by people that were just people able to produce the show, a show that lasts today probably 20 years later.

    In other words, as opposed to name person heading up an event, sometimes the community following of a more constant even free mike or in a way more than audience participation, audience motivated and run weekly production can be good for fund raising. Those coordinating and running the show than become your head liners for either weekly productions or for the gaila.

    Concept is to have a similar to open mic night in something that will be really cheap to produce, not need much practice and effort, yet in being much more fun and live entertainment be a attraction within beyond the theater community, to others in a way similar to those that used to see Rockey Horror Picture Show every Saturday night, just something that's popular and fun to do every week.

    Theater of Ted if the ISU person would care to explain about it more is a good example, otherwise I know the Too Much Light people in providing that show had more money than they knew what to do with given the following and lack of production costs on a weekly and more basis.

    My thought is that beyond a gaila in attracting big funding once a year or once every few years, a weekly production that's low in cost and effort will be just as much the cash cow. Many nights at Theater of Ted that was open to dancers, musicians, actors or anyone else, such things presented were more immediate than any productions the school did. In addition to this, what was presented in the live in what people wanted to present was much better training also. Could be a scene someone was doing in directing class, beyond this, it could be a actress on a window with a gun and you in the audience did not know in her drama what her intent was.

    Had Theater of Ted charged a cover price it will have kept it's following still - given such rational for cover charge was published and flexible for including all.

    All this theater was, was a rehearsal hall. A large classroom after a show or small gym otherwise perhaps after the friday or Saturday production might prove a useful space for all in the school drama fag or jock to visit after a show or even if they did not see it, in something to do and a community of peers to associate with.

    Some thoughts both for fund raising and getting that community of spirit and support going locally.

    Pete the theater management teacher at ISU I expect in at times showing his own photography during TED is more responsible than others for keeping the program going. Some of his thoughts would be useful in either contacting him both as a guru in fund raising and in this type of production. Illinois State University Theater if not more than Box Office I'm sure would get his response on the question for those interested in more info about this type of program. Otherwise Neo-Futurlum: 5153 n. Ashland. Chicago (773)275-5255 is the theater with that "Too Much Light" production I'm thinking about which if contacted might also present their secrets for how to do it to others.
     
  8. Peter

    Peter Well-Known Member

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    This is kinda random in the context of this thread, but it has to do with fundraising and this is an active thread so I'll throw it out.

    The Elementary school my sister goes to had a spagetti supper the other day, and before it they asked all the kids to along with their parents bring in a jar of some kinda filled with somekinda prize type thing. There was everything from little candys to juggleing balls, to cookie mix, to stickers to t-shirts (With the Patriots Logo on them!! Go PATS!!). At the dinner each jar had a sticker placed on the top with a number on it. People would come up to the table, pay a dollar (or two for the "special" more expensive jars) and pick a number out of a bag. They got whatever jar corrosponeded to the number they drew. It was a HUGE hit and all 300+ jars were gone by the end of the first sitting (about 160 people @ the sitting). I was talking to a friend from another school and they said they did something similar and easily sold 600 jars in a day at a craft show type event.

    You cant beat the profit margin (100%) on this if all the jars and prizes are donated. It might work as a fundraiser that could be run in a lobby before a show or during intermission. It would take a bit of legwork to get the jars donated, but that's probably the hardest part. Just another idea to throw out there!
     

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