Sunday, December 31, 2006

Starting A Community Theater Group

Local theater and drama groups are a great way to add a little life to a community. We found out once we moved to a small town that there was little in the way of community activity. People may seem to be interested, but they just accept that there are no such opportunities available. Drama groups seem like something cities have, not something that smaller towns have available to them. Still there is no reason that you cannot have your own drama group in your city or town. If you love theater, then you can plan a drama group. All you have to do is have a little organization.

First you will need to do the basic legwork on your own. Find out by calling the chamber of commerce if there are any drama groups that you may now know exist. See if you also can locate any information on groups that may have existed. If so, you may be able to cull a planning team from those people. Then you should look for a place in the community where you may be able to have a performance. If there are no old theaters, try hotels and other places with conference areas.

Your next job will be to put together a planning committee to help you with the effort. You will not be able to do everything alone, so you will need some help. You can begin by contacting people you know who may be interested, such as the lady from your church who always does the plays the youth puts on. Check with any community colleges in the area or with the high school drama teacher. Explain that you want to start a group and need a planning committee to help get everything together.

Once you have a decent number of people, you are ready to begin your plans. A drama group is a bit more than just finding actors who will participate. You need to consider the cost of such a venture first. For a community theater group, you will not be paying the actors, though you may want to work a thank-you gift into the budget. Instead you will need a budget to cover the cost of renting a place to hold the event as well as the cost of providing lighting services, props, and sets.

These expenses are ones you can cut in various ways, such as having a local carpenter volunteer to work on the set or asking people to donate prop items you need. Still you will want to put together a budget. The best way to put together this budget is to allow the planning committee to select the first play in advance. Have the committee put together a proposal for the cost of purchasing the scripts and a proposed budget for the first event. You should add some to this number to cover the cost of printing programs, advertising in the newspaper, and miscellaneous costs that may come up.

Once you have a budget, you can begin to the tough part. You will need to secure the funding for the group. There are many creative ways to begin your local drama group, so you should not let the budget scare you away. First you can ask the proprietors of potential venues if they will donate their space in exchange for being mentioned on the programs. Also ask other businesses to be corporate sponsors. In a small area, you should stick to lower sponsorships. Allow businesses to be listed as donors (using leveling, of course) for as little as $25 and go up to $500 or $1,000 for major sponsors. Also plan community fundraisers that will allow individuals to donate money through buying something or just giving a dollar here or there. If there are any business owners friendly to your idea, then ask if you can keep donation jars near them.

As soon as you get the money flowing and believe you have a reasonable chance of raising it, you will need to put together the calls for actors and begin piecing together the show. You will want to have a show fairly quickly so that donors can see where their money is going.

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