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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fundraising Questions

Maybe I'm just lazy, but I'm enjoying sitting back and reading so many wonderful comments from readers. I'm no expert, just one more curious person, going about his business.

Fundraising is on my mind of late. Tell me (and each other)...

1. A way you've found that's successful to raise money for your company/production
2. A fundraising method that you've found unsuccessful or frustrating (your own experience or something you've observed)
3. Do you tend to put your personal funds into your productions?
4. How much do ticket sales factor into your production decisions?

Share...and you shall karmically receive.


Jamespeak said...

1. Nosedive Productions puts on fundraising shows: hour-long sketch comedy/variety shows, followed by a party, with an open bar. We charge $20 at the door, and attendees can drink all they want. It's really fortunate when the space and booze is donated (which happens about half of the time), which means there's no overhead. This usually gets us $600 - $1200 in profits.

2. Program ads. We tried it once. A colossal pain in the ass. And only got us, like, $60. Not worth it. At least, not for us.

3. Yes.

4. Not 100% sure what you mean here (we have no idea how good or bad ticket sales are going to be until after opening weekend). Do you mean do I write and does Pete block something to "boost" ticket sales? I'm guessing no, but could you explain this one a little more and I'll try to answer honestly.

Freeman said...

Thanks for the responses. I know lots of people that go for program ads, which seem like a lot of legwork. Someone may have had good luck with them...who knows? Your 1. response is solid though.

As for number 4... I guess my clarification would be ... if you were to get killed on ticket sales, would you find yourself unable to produce your next show? Or would you just reach into your own pocket again? How important are they for your production budget for the, shall we say, NEXT show?

Jamespeak said...

Oh, gotcha. Hmmm...it depends. If we put on a very expensive show and get killed on returns (i.e., lose our shirts), then the next show is going to be a smaller, low-key low-budget production.

So far, this has only happened once (sort of), when we were hoping to follow up Dying Goldfish (a higher-budgeted show) with McTeague (another show expected to cost a lot). When we only made half our money back on Goldfish, there was no way we could do McTeague (although truth be told there's no way we could have done McTeague the way we wanted it done even if we had sold out the entire run of Goldfish), so we decided to rehelm our version of Christmas Carol as our follow-up.

However, we decided to do this not just for budgetary reasons but also b/c staging Goldfish was such an unfun, draining experience that we wanted to do something we knew would be fun, light and easy.

In general, Nosedive's shows range from about $3,000 to $9,000 per show. We know that we can't stage two shows back-to-back in the $9,000 range, but this has little to do with ticket sales.

Whew. That was a keyboardful. Aren't you sorrry you asked?

YS said...

Most all of the funding comes from my personal checkbook.

I agree, ads are a nightmare, but they can cover a significant amount of your printing costs if you can get a few in there.

I made a rule with myself early on that if I didn't have enough in my account to cover an expense then I couldn't afford.

If the light rental costs 1,200.00, and I don't have 1,200.00 extra in my bank account then I get a smaller light package.

As far as ticket sales go. I do take it into consideration. Basically I plan on there not being many at all.

For general budgeting and decision making I will look at the average attendance of past shows. Then I cut that number in half. Next, I multiply that number by the ticket price.

If the number I end up with is not enough to get me at least close to breaking even, then we won't do the show.

As James said, you can never ever ever rely on ticket sales. I have experienced it all: Blizzards, The Red Sox in their World Series Run, and having a sold out run close the day after getting a great review in one of the major papers. (Fire code violations.)

So much is out of your control when it comes to tickets. Even something as seemingly unrelated as the first really nice weekend of spring/summer can suddenly leave you with an empty theatre for Saturday and Sunday.

Sometimes you are pleasantly surprised though.