Theater Funding Announcements & Kickstarter Results

theater funding

This edition of Green Means Go contains new theater funding announcements and a reminder of what a rich resource Kickstarter can be for theaters and nonprofits. These triumphs are presented in a digested format for quick scanning but also contain the requisite external citations to read more in-depth.

Reminder: Kickstarter Theater Funding

In the ongoing pursuit for funding by traditional means, it is all too easy to forget how many theaters have made proper use of the popular crowdsource funding website Kickstarter. Funding goals are being met, and sometimes vastly exceeded, on a regular basis.

For the uninitiated, Kickstarter is: A for-profit company founded in 2009 that provides through its website tools to fund raise for creative projects via crowd funding. People cannot invest in Kickstarter projects to make money. They can only back projects in exchange for a tangible reward or one-of-a-kind experience, like a personal note of thanks, custom T-shirts, dinner with an author, or initial production run of a new product.

It is important to note that the Kickstarter website has an entire special section devoted to theaters. Funding progress can be viewed by date, popularity and, best of all, "most funded". Since the only limit for funding is time, and not dollar amounts, theaters can raise any amount above their stated goal. When a theater achieves, then exceeds, its funding goal, it is assigned to the "most funded" category. The reference standard for a performing arts funding success remains Amanda Palmer's. Her music and literature project began with a $100,000 Kickstarter goal, which ultimately resulted in $1,192,793 being raised.

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More recently, the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival (LAWTF) successfully raised the funds to move into a larger venue. LAWTF's 99 seat theater has served it well over the years, but as a growing nonprofit, it needed more space to accommodate growing demand for tickets. From the LAWTF blog:

Many Thanks to Our Kickstarter Backers. The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival deeply appreciates the outpouring of support from our Kickstarter backers in the achievement in surpassing our goal. No matter the amount, every donation contributed to the success of our first Kickstarter Campaign!

The LAWTF success using Kickstarter is just one of thousands examples available for review. Decision makers for the performing arts are strongly encouraged to take the time and review what Kickstarter has to offer for theater funding.

Evanston Illinois

Fresh from a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the city of Evanston Illinois has put forth its proposal for an new cultural center among North Chicago's established theaters. The study was published this week and looks to be the rally point for funding and public awareness of its intent. Jia You describes the project's vision:

The study recommends three potential venues downtown that would form an arts corridor with existing performance venues, the downtown area and the Northwestern campus. The first venue is currently a city-owned parking lot on the west side of Chicago Avenue between Clark and Church Streets, which would be converted into two flexible theaters.

The second would be a dance and music theater on the north side of Davis Street, between Orrington and Chicago Avenues. The last possible venue is an existing theater facility at the southeast corner of Davis Street and Maple Avenue for Northlight Theater, a company that started in Evanston but moved to Skokie.

Noteworthy is the city's careful planning and close consultation with Chicago area theater owners. By presenting the project as a detailed feasibility study, feedback can be gathered and the project can be fined tuned before proceeding with additional fund raising. Consulting industry experts also increases the projects potential success, as You's article states “These things cost money, so you have to work with what’s going to actually have a chance to succeed financially."

Theater owners & nonprofits can learn more with these ThunderTix resources.
Software for performing arts theaters.
Tools for accepting donations online
Interactive online reserved seating charts

Indianapolis Indiana

The Phoenix Theater is in need of a new ventilation system that will rejuvenate the venue's stuffy interior. The nonprofit has been in operation for over 30 years and, as Jill Glavin reports (video above), is no stranger to the challenges of theater funding.

Seasoned technical director Nolan Brokamp says that the act of raising money has become more of a challenge in recent years but notes that that are more resources and agencies to help nonprofits than at any point in history.

The Phoenix Theater is a member of the National New Play Network (NNPN) from which it may find assistance in fundraising. As part of NNPN's mission statement, the national network of nonprofit theaters frequently connects theaters with donors as well as Federal aid programs supporting The Arts.

The National New Play Network is the country's alliance of nonprofit theaters that champions the development, production and continued life of new plays. We strive to pioneer, implement and disseminate ideas and programs that revolutionize the way theaters collaborate to support new plays and playwrights.

Nonprofit theaters wanting to learn more about the benefits of NNPN membership can review current member list on the website or contact the general manager Jojo Ruf at (202) 349-1283.

Beatrice Nebraska

After an 86 year long run, the historic Bonham Theatre closed its doors in June of 2012. But private group has taken up the cause and recently began a fund raising project. First $150,000 receive was from Save America’s Cinemas (SAC). SAC, a non-profit organization founded by a collection of actors, movie directors, producers and screenwriters dedicated to preserving the national old cinemas.

With the new found funding, the theater closing can now be considered a temporary impasse before returning to its former glory. The fundraising efforts have been named The Bonham Theatre Project and donations are being accepted through the Fairbury portal website.

The nonprofit group responsible for bringing the Bonham back to life used the traditional methods for donations as well as Facebook. In addition to the Save America’s Cinemas grant, Facebook and the generous acts of the public, the fundraising also uses the 'Gifts of Grain' program that let's farmers defer their earnings to become a tax deductible donation.

Producers who wish to donate portions of their crops or livestock directly to the Bonham Theatre Project not only benefit their community, but are able to benefit from tax savings that may be greater than if they had sold the commodity and then donated a portion of the proceeds.

When an agricultural producer transfers legal ownership of the commodity to a charity before it is sold, the producer will not have taxable income from a sale, thus minimizing taxes. Tax savings may be realized on federal income tax, state income tax and self-employment tax, depending on the producer’s specific circumstances.

Theater owners can learn more about the Gift of Grain program on the website or by calling 765-889-2810

ThunderTix's 'Green Means Go' is an on-going series of blog posts that takes its inspiration from 'Project Green Light'. Each week, successes by performing arts theater and nonprofit entities are curated, examined and shared to help hard working decision makers with their funding challenges.

ThunderTix’s commitment to The Arts doesn't end with a sold out performance. We want to help theaters, big and small, meet their operational goals by sharing new ideas and best practices for accepting donations and increased ticket sales. ‘Green Means Go’ is a series for performing arts theaters and chronicles the latest developments in fundraising, event awareness and ticket sale technology.

Be sure to take a look at our features and sign up for a free trial today!

Image source: Wikimedia Commons