There are many opportunities for community theatres to collaborate with other non-profit organizations. Your theatre may have some past experience doing so, or perhaps you have either the idea or the organization for which you'd like to create a collaborative program or experience, but you're not sure where to begin. Hear what three community theatres in the State have to say about collaborating with other non-profits, and take away inspiration and tips. Collaboration might be easier than you think.
Projects That Bring You Together
Your main gig? Producing theatre. While one of your primary opportunities to work with another non-profit might be to produce shows with other non-profit theatres, there are many variations and layers to these collaborative opportunities.
Take note of Ferndale Repertory Theatre's experiences of not only producing shows with other local theatres and schools, but also their collaboration with another theatre to hold join auditions. According to FRT artistic director Leira V. Satlof, the joint audition covered "11 shows, 160+ actors, 16 production staff; it was exciting."
Theatre-Related Collaboration Projects
Talk-Back or Post-Show Discussions for local non-profits whose missions reflect a theme in your production
Performance Opportunities for Special Needs Participants, such as The Penguin Project. Collaborate with local resource groups focusing on therapy or special needs resource centers.
Girl Scouts or Boys & Girls or Youth Tours
Benefit performances to bring new people to see the theatre
"We help provide actors to portray true-life troubled youth stories for YouthHope, and we provide free tickets to both Ronald McDonald House and Salvation Army."
Free Fall Stage in Folsom's She Has A Name Project:
In the Spring of 2014, we produced (for the first time in the U.S.) Andrew Kooman’s critically acclaimed anti-trafficking drama She Has a Name (see under Performances in the U.S.), which included a 7 run tour from the Summer of 2014 through the Spring of 2016. We were honored to partner with local anti-trafficking organizations such as 3Strands Global/Break Free Run (formerly known as Run For Courage), Courage Worldwide, and Blue Heart International to bring awareness and encourage audience members to take action to end human trafficking in our lifetime. We are dedicated to continue supporting these incredible organizations and using our talents to provoke positive change in our World.
Are you already active in your community? If so, then, congratulations! You know many of the players and organizations. But for those theatres that are new, reside in smaller communities or even those with lots of organization 'friends', you might want to be sure you are not missing any prime opportunities for collaboration.
Collaboration Partner Possibilities
Chamber of Commerce
Or...read the news to see what people's fundraisers people are attending
For those theatres who have some collaborations behind them, the success can breed motivation. Here are some ideas for future projects:
"We sometimes produce plays which have particular interest groups. In those cases we reach out to local non-profit organizations where there is crossover. We also would love to work more with the local deaf community to get our productions interpreted. That has been a challenge, but we are going to keep trying."
"Maybe Alzheimers Association in conjunction with a play where that is a major story point."
Advice on Collaboration
It could seem overwhelming to think about working with another organization, but after the initial groundwork on your project or program is laid, and with the roles clear for both groups,
"Finding the actors for YouthHope is sometimes difficult as our actors are busy people."
"Different cultures. But if we are thoughtful and clear communicators, nothing that causes too much of a challenge."
The Outcome Can Be Beneficial For All
The obvious positive outcome for a successful collaboration is to broaden your base of participants - either patrons or donors. Collaborating with another organization introduces new people to your theatre. It can also bridge gaps in programming where you are limited in resources. This can happen in the most creative ways for community theatre. When 'casting' the role of Toto in the 'Wizard of Oz,' Marc Edson of Chico Theater Company used a rescue dog from Butte Humane Society. This collaboration resulted in not only media coverage for the production, but also Butte Humane Society became a benefactor of donations for two of CTC's youth productions, Disney's 'Aristocats' and Disney's '101 Dalmations'. Originally, this collaboration helped identify the canine cast member for the production of 'Wizard of Oz,' but also allowed CTC to give back to its community by way of raising funds for the outside organization.
"It allows us as an organization to give something back to the community and give people going through hard times a bit of entertainment to help them forget their troubles even for just a bit."
"Our collaborations have caused new faces to come into the theatre both as participants and as audience. We also learn from one another."
"Helped raise awareness of the show and good will for the theater."
What are the names of other non-profit organizations with which you have collaborated in the past?
YouthHope, Ronald McDonald House of Loma Linda, Salvation Army
Humboldt Light Opera Company, The Arcata Playhouse, North Coast Repertory Theatre, Kneeland School, Humboldt Quilters Association.
Butte Humane Society
"We are always looking for ways to give back to the community."
Pictures by Dan Tubbs from A Christmas Story, a collaboration between Ferndale Repertory Theatre and Humboldt LIght Opera Company.