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Tackling Big Projects & Staying Organized

Running a community theatre means there's so much to do and so little time! But some tasks and projects can't be ignored. This month, we're taking a look at what types of projects California Community Theatres have tackled, what's still on the to-do list, and some tips on how to get it all done.

What kind of big projects have you completed to keep your theatre organized?

Ferndale Repertory Theatre:

We converted the many excel spreadsheets that held information about our patrons and donors to a really valuable online service called ARTS PEOPLE. They helped us get all the data we had entered and in the two years we have been using the service we have doubled our on line ticket sales and created much better donor relationships and income because we have useful accurate information about our patrons.

We have been using QuickBooks Online which helps our finances stay up to date and accurate by allowing our accountant, bookkeeper, Artistic Producing Director and treasurer all to have the same up to date accurate information.

Lamplighters Community Theatre:

Archiving of programs, videos and pictures. A new web-site that makes volunteering much easier and more organized.

The Desert Rose Playhouse:

Two major projects: organized our prop/lumber room and our dressing room/costumes inventory.

A Repertory Theatre:

Journal of email URLs of attendees

Truckee Community Theater:

We pulled patron data out of our new ticketing service data base in order to do a large mailing of our 2017 season brochures. This meant, initially, going through stacks of actor's audition forms and adding all their data to the database so patrons, actors and directors would all be on the list.

For any of the above big projects, how did you plan to accomplish this goal? (percentage of respondents who answered 'yes')

Designated a team/individual to take charge: 83.3%

Created a timeline: 50%

Broke down the job into small pieces: 33.3%

Created a deadline: 50%

Other methods:

Hired a service - Ferndale Repertory Theatre

For any of the above projects, what other factors did you include to lead you to success?

(percentage of respondents who answered 'yes')

Enlisted a group of volunteers/made a volunteer opportunity: 83.3%

Publicized the event so outside individuals/businesses could assist: 0%

Purchased software/a new program, organizing supplies or built a new organizing system specifically for the project: 16.7%

Other methods:

Made the decision to send the brochures first class mail rather than go through USPS hoops to do them as a non-profit bulk mailing

- Truckee Community Theater

What is a future big project(s) you hope to tackle, and do you have a plan to complete it? What are your challenges in getting it done?

Ferndale Repertory Theatre:

You asked about projects related to organization. We also have written grants to fund the remodel of two bathrooms in the past two years. This summer we will install new seats. All of these projects required timelines, volunteer coordination, staff effort, etc etc.

We always have a plan for big projects. And we know the value of starting early. We have committees which include both board members and volunteers for major events. We just had the first meeting for our 50th anniversary season, which is in 2022.

We always have a budget for big projects. This helps us to think things through and also is helpful in securing grants, sponsors and media partners.

The biggest challengers are always time and money. Never enough of either. Luckily for FRT we have very strong community support and people come to our assistance in whatever ways they can. That includes financial support and sweat equity of every imaginable kind. We are very grateful, and I hope we do a good job of making all those supporters feel valued and thanked.

Lamplighters Community Theatre:

Building a stage floor. Obtaining new air conditions. Remodeling and expanding back stage.

The Desert Rose Playhouse:

Redoing the flooring in the performance space. Challenges are, as always, money.

Organizing and cleaning out our lumber/prop storage area.

A Repertory Theatre:

Talent show--need good promotional materials

Truckee Community Theater:

I want to organize all our costumes and props. This is a big undertaking, and may need to involve helpers on one or two selected days.

Spotlight on: Ferndale Repertory Theatre:

Learn more about Ferndale Repertory Theatre's experience tackling their costume stock project, and see how a group of volunteers helps an ongoing project for FRT - obtaining new seats to be installed later this year.

In the last three years we have emptied over 3,000 pieces from our costume shop, purchased an inventory system and this summer will finish installing that system which includes a database with descriptions and pictures along with bar codes on most garments to track where they are and what they are used/lended for.

A picture of me (Leira V. Satlof, Artistic Producing Director), drowning in costumes. We used that photo to advertise the costumes sales we had so we could clean the shop out and inventory the useful costumes that remain in our stock.

Here is a group of volunteers unloading our "new to us" seats which will be cleaned and installed in July 2017.

A special thanks to Leira V. Satlof and Ferndale Repertory Theatre!

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