Getting Funds for Your Drama Society
Starting an amateur dramatics society is an exciting goal. However, talk of financing the group often puts a damper on volunteers’ collective enthusiasm.
Without a doubt, it can be challenging to find money to fund a troupe and then keep it running “in the black.” But if you’re savvy, keep your overheads low, and look for funding opportunities, you’ll be able to keep your real (or figurative) doors open.
To help you en route to your first amateur dramatics group production, some finance-related ideas are noted below.
Ticket SalesSelling tickets to performances is the way most societies make ends meet. But beware—if the plays you offer are forgettable, you may have difficulty getting people in the seats.
Consequently, it will be critical to offer the public remarkable comedies, dramas, musicals, recitals, readings and/or operas, at least for the first year or two. After that point, you will have attracted a steady “base” of attendees who will likely be more open to your throwing an “unconventional” production into the mix once in a while.
Additionally, you’ll have to consider how to price your tickets based on your geographical location, the types of productions you’re undertaking and the selling price for comparable amateur dramatics society performances.
FundraisersMany amateur dramatics troupes hold fundraising events in order to pay for their websites, salaries (if applicable), set and costume pieces, room/building/stage rental charges, marketing, advertising, telephone lines, electricity bills, water bills, et cetera.
Such events can be of any shape or form, from sales of food to “free” performances where audience donations are requested. Generally speaking, annual fundraisers can be a nice way to add a few coins to your society’s coffers, but they typically won’t cover all expenses for the year.
Warning: Don’t try more than one or two fundraisers per year. People tend to get worn out and will stop giving. Also, you’ll have little time to prepare for performances if you’re always concerned about tackling an upcoming fundraising event.
Capital CampaignA capital campaign is much like a gigantic fundraiser. Typically, large organisations and individuals with serious amounts of money are asked to donate hefty sums in order to help the amateur dramatics society purchase (or construct) a theatre or pursue some other high-end aspiration.
Capital campaigns should be conducted with the help of someone who has experience in this particular realm, as they can be unwieldy for a group of amateurs to navigate. One misstep and your troupe may waste months.
In some cases, a capital campaign manager is brought “on board”; occasionally, his or her salary may be entirely or partially paid from the capital campaign results.
SponsorshipsRadio stations, financial institutions and other corporate entities are usually willing to “underwrite” a show or two for an amateur dramatics group. Sponsorships of this type can run the gamut as far as amounts go and are very dependent on the plays you produce, your society’s locale and the sponsoring business.
For example, if your troupe is offering “The Diary of Anne Frank” next season, your neighbourhood accounting firm may agree to sponsor the show. Monies will then be donated and you’ll be counted on to use those pounds for publicity, marketing and perhaps design pieces. You’ll also be expected to “plug” the accounting firm at every turn.
The most important aspect to remember about sponsorships is that you need to continuously (and publicly) thank the persons and companies sponsoring your group. If you don’t, you’ll have difficulty wooing them again.
MembershipsFinally, some amateur dramatics groups who have an established annual calendar of events sell annual memberships to corporations, families and individuals. These memberships usually comprise of a certain number of tickets at reduced prices, an exclusive “gift”, such as a T-shirt or mug with the amateur dramatics society logo on it, or other special discounts.
Sweeten the deal for potential members by giving them first-dibs on seating or input into some aspect of the society (such as allowing them to vote online for the comedy your troupe will offer next spring.) The more perks you can provide that are low-cost to you (but high value to your members), the stronger your financial results will be.