Monthly Archives: August, 2012

On Fundraising

Or FUNraising, if done right.

I have done a LOT of fundraising in my life.  As a Girl Scout, I sold calenders and cookies.  As a band member I sold World’s Finest Chocolates until people got tired of seeing me.  As a member of various Drum and Bugle corps, I sold various sweets to help offset the cost of my participation and help pay to keep the corps on the road.  I’ve bought and sold candles and popcorn and subs and…yeah.  There is a lot of me going out and doing the door-to-door thing, or sticking a box of something (or a form) on the end of my desk or my mom’s.

But how can a theatre group raise money.  In a world where it seems like the arts are getting the raw end of the deal, and spending money for a night of live entertainment is seen more as a luxury than a necessity, how can they raise funds that they are not getting in ticket sales to keep the building going, get rights to shows, pay the people who get salaries, etc, etc, etc?

One of the groups back home presents an “Audience Choice” show every year.  This voting for this show doubles as a fundraiser and is done online or through their box office.  They present a list of 5 titles for the audience to vote on, and each vote costs $2.00.  I do not remember seeing synopsis of the show, so it was up to the voter to learn more about each production.  This year they are closing their season with last years winner, THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL so it proves that the “trusty dusties” need to be in the mix.  The other shows in the running included:  GODSPELL, WORKING, NUNSENSE, and I LOVE YOU, YOU’RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE.

Recently, I was invited to take part in another fund raiser.  For this one, the director picked a group of actors – ones that had appeared at the venue before or that he had always wanted to work with and had not been able to for whatever reason.  For each of the performers he chose 2 songs for them to be featured in.  None of the shows had been produced by the theatre in the last 10 years, if ever.  Tickets were $10.00 at the door and the audience was given a program that featured each song, the show it was from, the performers being featured, and the numbers 1-5.  1 was “I hate it, don’t ever put it in front of me” with 5 being “this better be produced here soon because it was wonderful!”  The difference between the show/song with the highest number of votes and the show/song with the least was 1 percentage point!  One.

So, basically, what does this mean?  To me it says that audiences want to, and are willing to pay, to have a vote in what shows a theatre company produces, and that maybe that input should be valued.  Sure, you can do the same old fundraising dinners and 50/50 raffles (all of which are great ways to raise money), but perhaps you can build your audience by involving them in the process.

But really, that is just my $.02 worth.



ps–if the ballot idea is duplicated in future years, I don’t think a much longer rehearsal period would do it any good.  the performers all had their music a month in advance to start working on it, and too long might lose some of the ….idk, panic, joy, terror, exhiliration??  And new ideas that involve the audience are always great!


Blowing Dust Off the Old Keyboard

Hi!  How is everyone doing out there??  How is life?  How has your summer been?  Mine has been pretty interesting and pretty low key.  It’s a very interesting mix.  I feel like I should pick up where I left off with the Disney/Universal trip, but that has been so long ago, that I don’t really remember where I left off except that Disney Onstage = Awesome for Glutards, Disney Backstage = Not So Much and that Universal was a blast, but a total food wash.

So, what have I been up to??  Well, near Memorial Day the studio where I was taking Burlesque classes   
had a Graduation Recital and I got to perform with a group of my fellow Beginning/Intermediate students in that while the gradates prepped after their individual numbers for their finale.  I only went down to a bra and my second pair of panties (the routine had us removing the outer pantie), but it was exhilarating.  I felt strong, sexy, and confident, three words that I do not feel that often and rarely at the same time.

Not too long after that, actually ON I went up to Northern Wisconsin for a friends weekend.  It was a fun weekend with friends and I got to see her marry the love of her life.  How can that NOT make you happy??

I think not long after that, I did a 20th anniversary show for a friend’s theatre company.  It was not everything that was promised when I showed up to the first meeting, but in the end, I had a lot of fun with some talented people and got to share the stage with some friends.  And I hope, beyond all hope, that the next time I ever sing “Seasons of Love” is because I am in a production of RENT.  Can I please call for a ban of that song in any and every musical revue show?  It is honestly the entire reason I never saw RENT until about the time the movie came out.

The big highlight of July was cheering on a friend in her international beauty pagent here in the Chicago area.  She rocked out, won “Most Photogenic” and was an amazing advocate for her platform, Celiac Awareness.  I met her at the Gluten Free Cooking Expo that I have been volunteering at for YEARS and I love my “cupcake monsters.”

photo courtesy of Steve Merkel

August started with a bang.  Almost quite literally if you consider the gun that was fired in show.  Anyway, I had been asked by a director I have auditioned for several times to take place in a musical revue that he was putting together as a fundraiser for a local theatre company.  Of course I jumped at the chance to work with him.  Then I saw who else he asked.  EVERY other person in that cast has, at one point in their life or another, played a lead or a main supporting character with solos in a show.  Some of these performers I had seen on stage and just wanted to learn as much as I could from them.  And then there was me.  The tall chorus girl in the back.  But in this show, I wasn’t going to be a chorus girl.  Every single person in the show was featured in at least 2 numbers.  What did that mean for me?  I was going to be singing Magenta in “The Time Warp” from ROCKY HORROR SHOW, and Mazeppa in “Gotta Get a Gimmick” from GYPSY.  Plus ensemble in 4 other numbers.  **GULP**  Nervous.  Scared.  Floored.  Honored.  Determined.  Terrified.  What if I got there and I was the weakest person in the show?  What if I got there and the director realized he made a mistake?  Well, I got the sheet music about a month early and did everything I could to start working on my parts so that when the time came for rehearsals to start, I could be (somewhat) professional and at least know my music.  I knew it would be tweaked as I worked with the director and knew what he wanted, but I could know words and pitches.

11 Rehearsals.  22 people put on a 2 hour show in 11 rehearsals.  We sold out 97% of the house over the run of the show.  I came into the rehearsal process determined to be friendly, but to keep my head down, work hard, learn by observing others, and not let all of my crazy energy out.  And for the most part, I think I succeeded.  I don’t know how my performances went.  I know they felt great, and each night they felt stronger and stronger.  I don’t know how well I succeeded in everything else I wanted to accomplish, or even hope to accomplish.  But I know this.  I came out of it with a bunch of new friends and the knowledge that I got to play with the big boys and I held my own.