Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What is Theatre

Don't cringe. This isn't too philosophical a question as you might expect. Thanks to Thomas Cott, we have many more articles how theatre should be viewed in the lens of not-for-profit institutions. Should it be on par with charities, hospitals, homeless shelters, and educational institutions? Can you really make the same case for fundraising as you would for a new children's hospital?

And if theatre doesn't fit into this traditional model, then what? No mid-sized theatre can meet its budget on tickets sales alone - or can it? Broadway is based on ticket sales, but our regional theatres with their season-based-subscriptions don't have the same profit model. So how do theatres support themselves then? One idea is a community support system. Think of it as a community garden that a community will invest in at the beginning of the growning season and reap the benefits at the harvest.

What other ways might theatre not only define itself and it's value to the community, but also raise those increasingly difficult to find funds that it needs to survive? Is turning theatre to a for profit model a better idea? If theatre is a charity, who is it serving if not everyone can afford to purchase seat - and what is the mission that it is trying to accomplish to leave the community a better place?

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