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Sponsorship For Plays

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Sponsorship For Plays

Postby MacDougal » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:22 am

How do I get the ball rolling on taking a grounded(but previously sucessful) play from having no money, to a budjet that we can perform at?  Where do I get sponsors?  Any Grants I can Use?  Thank you for your help.

Tim Rose

Norfolk, Virginia
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:47 am

Sponsorship For Plays

Postby Comhghan » Thu Nov 10, 2016 11:39 pm

Hi Tim,

Unfortunately, I am a stage director, not a producer or financial expert.  As far as I know, the only way to get "sponsors", or "angels" or "backers" as they are commonly known, is to go out and ask people for money.  That's why most playwrights and directors who have a play they want to produce, look for professional producers to find financial backing for their productions.  That's part of the producer's job.

Creating a budget depends on where you want to produce the show - the size of the theatre and how much it costs to rent; the number of rehearsals you require and how much rehearsal space costs; whether this is a professional production and you plan on paying the actors, director, designers, stage manager, technicians, etc.; and, if it is a professional production, if it is an Equity production and you need to pay at Equity rates along with other union charges; the cost of insurance for the production; how elaborate the production is - that is, the cost of sets, props, costumes, special effects, etc.; and more.  

You can go at this in two ways.  First raise your money, then decide on the extent of your budget depending on the funding you have.  Or you can decide what kind of production you want, what it will cost to do what you want to do, and then go out and raise the money you will need to make that happen.  Either way will work, depending on the requirements of your show.

As for finding backers... well, as I said, you can go out and "beg" from friends, family, corporations, organizations related to the subject of your play, and anyone else you can think of.  Or, you can do a "backer's audition", which is essentially an abreviated staged reading of your play, or, in the case of a musical, sometimes an abreviated synopsis of the play, with the music played and sung, either by a cast or often by the composer/lyricist.  This "production" is done before an invited audience of producers, potential backers, and the like.  No guarantees that those you invite will show up, or, if they do, that they will invest in your show, but at least it's a chance to let them see the "product" you are asking them to invest in.  

Yes, there are grants available.  I don't have any references as to where to find them, but there are arts/theatre grants available.  Some of them are available only to recognized not-for-profit production companies.  Others may be available to playwrights and/or directors for the express purpose of play development.  There are, I'm sure, others.  Grant-writing is a very complicated process.  Many theatres have professional grant-writers to research and prepare their grant applications.  But if you have a lot of patience and are detail oriented, then it is possible to find and do them yourself.  You might want to check with the Dramatist's Guild, or the Dramatist's Sourcebook to see if they have any references on where to research available arts grants.

Finding backers for new plays is a very, very difficult job since the prospect of getting a profit on their investment is very small.  You would probably have better luck looking for people who are willing to "donate" to your production.  But you can only legally do this if you are working under the auspices of a legal not-for-profit organization.  Sometimes you can find a production organization(a local theatre or the like) who may be willing to act as co-producer, not producing the show or contributing to it financially, but rather allowing you to produce under its "umbrella", and therefore have the benefit of its not-for-profit status and, sometimes, its insurance.  It's something to check out. Hope this is at least a little help.  If you have any other questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them for you.


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